It’s always tough being a reviewer who goes out to shows and likes bands, not a disconnected critic searching for a “brilliant” stab at a band. It’s double-tough for bands that I’m ambivalent to. I think that Travis Duke is one of the nicest, more forthright people I’ve met. And it pains me that I’m not a huge fan of the Dukes. To me, something sounds buried underneath the burlap with their songs; like they’re covering up structures more interesting, more formed. There are traces of Tiltwheel-like expansion and glimpses of lyrical breakthroughs in their songs and I don’t find them onerous or anything. They’re just not my thing when they should be. I just don’t get that excited about their music and it pains me to say that. Damn. This sounds like an unrequited love letter or something. The Mercury League: I have to credit Daryl for the term “post-Epitaph hardcore.” Since melodicore isn’t filling stadiums, bands that would’ve fit that genre to a tee in the mid-’90s are looking for a slightly different way to go about things. They come across as a band suffering a post-Hot Water Music malaise propelled by latter-day Stung Out guitaring on top, and it’s just not grabbing me. I feel like a dick.
–todd (Accident Prone)