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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Review: Form and File- This is Form and File (EP) [2011]

Note; if you want to hear this, check out their Bandcamp. If it's not up there anymore, get at me. I don't want to put it on Mediafire because judging by their website, they don't want this given away for free en mass.

Form and File is a pretty cool band I've randomly stumbled across. According to somebody from End of a Year, it features Ryan Briggs from Have Heart. 

If you're looking for your Have Heart fix, Form & File may not be your cup of tea. However, if you're in the mood for some well written, forward thinking melodic hardcore, you're barking up the right tree, my friend.

End of a Year sums up my thoughts on their sound perfectly: “You get it right away but then it gets weird sometimes and you say, 'yo, what the fuck is this?' but then you sort of appreciate that they did that.” These guys sound like End of a Year playing Jawbreaker covers while Chris and Chuck from HWM have a loud, drunken heart to heart beside a microphone. If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, download this immediately. If you need more convincing, bear with me.

Form and File seem like a band that has a really strong sense of who they are and what they want to be. They firmly plant one foot in early post-hardcore, leaving the other free to splash around in indie, post-punk, alt rock, and all other kinds of weird stuff. This is a band that tackles a litany of different sounds in 3 songs, yet never once makes it seem like they're forcing it. It's impressive.

The first song, “Bender”, is where the parallels to EOAY are most evident. The first half of the song feels like it could've been lifted right from You Are Beneath Me – the melodic-yet-rough-around-the-edges guitar sound in particular is strikingly similar. After a build-up with some Chris/Chuck-esque harmonies and some intensely good drumming, the song gets all “Jeni Leigh”; leaving us with a nice melodic bridge and some aptly-placed female vocals as contrast.

Ferdinand the Bull” takes you on a much different ride. The intro conjures up a bar-blues sound that would fit right in to an early Tragically Hip release, while the rest of the song sounds like something from a bluesier 24 Hour Revenge Therapy – shifting and dymanic, yet never compromising the flow of the song. Musically this song blows my mind – it manages to sound like a country tune, bar-blues, and a Jawbreaker song all in one.

The last song, “New Love” is where Form and File really shine. Lyrically, the song is amazing, taking on the topic of gender roles in a way I've never heard in punk (or anywhere else, for that matter). Let's sample, shall we:

Hold me but don't touch my body/ just take my brain into/ your hands... Is her body the only thing I care for?/ Is this a man's cross to bear? I want to hear it from you/ I want to know more than the curve of your body/ because I know what those clothes do cover/ I'm so intruiged by what's hidden behind those eyes...”

I really shouldn't have to say more about this song. But I will. Musically, it sounds a bit like quality Texas is the Reason or Hot Water Music at their quiet best. The band displays just enough restraint to keep the passion from overflowing, with beauty created in the struggle to do so. The tune is intense enough without the beautiful lyricism. With it, it's almost too much. Ever play a sport competitively and win a really close, important game? You get nervous, things fall apart, and emotions run wild. But in the end all the struggle just makes the win feel that much better. That's the kind of feeling athletes play for, and if it's not the kind of feeling musicians write for, it should be. This song is the musical equivalent of overtime in game 7.

Simply put, This is Form and File is fucking mind-boggling. It's amazing how a band could write three completely different songs that somehow fit together seamlessly. It's also amazing how a band could draw comparisons from so many other bands, yet sound unlike anything I've ever heard before. Form and File mix, mash and push boudaries to deliver a product that seems comfortably familiar, yet not even close to stale, and they do it really, really well. If these guys aren't “hardcore big” very soon, expect them to be a band kids name drop to sound cool 10 years from now.

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