Monday record review 3/5/2012: 1.6 Band's self-titled LP

The most intense part of any moving day is inevitably couch-related: this familiar object, one whose multiple functions revolve almost solely around relaxation, becomes a monument to futility as its arms and feet transform into hindrances as a bunch of poor, exhausted saps try in vain to stuff the damn thing up (at least) one flight of stairs, muscles straining under both weight and unnatural angles. Then the process is forgotten until the next move. But afterwards, the requisite pizza and beer are awesome because the calories have been earned lugging and hefting and haggling and positioning—carbs be damned!

Legacies are like that: ultimately rewarding, but heavy, and largely divorced from process. Rather than concentrating on the process, how the current destination was reached, there’s a tendency to sit still, ignoring the twists and turns inherent in any stylistic trajectory.

1.6 Band doesn’t have a huge legacy—this LP, a few singles (including the excellent “The Checkered Past of All Things Present,” released in tandem with some recent shows [all of which I missed, dammit!]) —but what they left is indicative of this love of process and positioning. The music they play is instantly identifiable as hardcore punk, but that identification carries with it some stagnant signifiers: it’s a genre largely more interested in the post-move relaxation than getting the couch up the stairs. The tropes can be heavy and obvious.

Adult Hitler

What 1.6 Band does on their lone LP is take the hardcore signifiers and twist them in such a manner than their music, though familiar, becomes entirely their own. The most “traditional” member of the band is Kevin Egan, whose shouts throughout are strong and sustained. His lyrics, though, are much more sparse / way less didactic than the average Youth. Crew offering, leaving listeners enough space to plug in their own concerns over the provided framework. It’s impossible to discern what he’s talking about, specifically, when he sings, in “Plastic Bags” “who planted the seed? / inside my brain? / It’s gonna take a lifetime / I didn’t have to feel all this pain,” but that’s the point—specificity dictates, and dictation dates. Egan’s lyrics, because of their open-endedness, manage to evolve over time, maintaining relevance through their open-endedness.

There’s a subsect of folks who don’t listen to heavy music for the lyrics, granted. Luckily, everyone in the band is great musically. There isn’t a simple way to explain the band’s music because there’s no one blueprint that they follow. Guitarist Mike Yanicelli often leads with atonal stutters and bends, hiccups full of purposefully placed wrong notes, shrill harmonics. On “Threads,” his quick three-note progression sounds almost metal in delivery before yielding to a more traditional power-chord chorus before the bridge slows and groans under its own weight. Meanwhile, virtuoso drummer Vin Novara (who later played with some ex-Hoover dudes in the underappreciated Crownhate Ruin) puts on a clinic of 32nd notes, fills and rolls which expertly spackle the space left by bass player Lance Jaeger, whose gymnastic playing sometimes drives the song forward and sometimes adds color. Again, there’s no set pattern: at the onset, “Keeping Me From Killing You” is Jaeger’s bass’s show, just as “Threads” was Yanicelli’s. But songs like these, in which one guy seems to be driving, there are shifts—no bogarts here!—and spaces for argument.

The songs are largely in four or eight, but are sufficiently mathy to tilt heads in the pit and, after a few listens, induce new rhythms. In other words, the 1.6 Band wants listeners to be aware of the twists and turns in their heaviness before settling into them. In other words, get ready to do some work before you eat your pizza.

—Mike F.

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