A funny thing happened on the way to the Pitchfork reviews section last week, and it was a not-so-entirely-unwelcome-yet-somewhat-surprising premiere of the first single off Pennsylvanian progressive hardcore makers Balance and Composure's forthcoming sophomore effort The Things We Think We're Missing. Whether the review was glowing or dismissive is up to debate, but regardless, it's a refreshing sea change in everyone's favorite critical punching bag's mindset to see their writers give bands on punk labels like No Sleep well-deserved widespread attention outside the realms of your usual PunkNews, AbsolutePunk and Alternative Press coverage (or waiting for them to sign onto an "acceptable" big indie like Matador.) AwkwardSound has always waved its post-hardcore flag proudly, having championed like-minded acts such as Ceremony, Defeater, Joyce Manor, La Dispute, Loma Prieta, Touché Amoré, Title Fight and Pianos Become the Teeth since the site's start, but it can't help but predict that we'll soon be seeing many of these names (and more) evolve past genre lines and find success outside the circle pit. Here's five to keep your eye on in the headlines...
Balance and Composure
Balance and Composure were bred in the 'burbs of Pennsylvania much like their local scene friends Title Fight and Daylight (see below,) and have that rare ability to connect their brand of post-hardcore with a few different shades of sound. Their debut album Separation was released in 2011, and showcased the Doylestown quintet's ability to channel into both a loud, emotive side reminiscent of the early Aughties Long Island scene, as well as hook-heavy melodies perfected further down the Atlantic in Jersey. Their sophomore effort The Things We Think We're Missing (due out September 10th via No Sleep) may be a cohesive turning point for Balance and Composure, as they've enlisted Will Yip (Title Fight's Floral Green) to pull all of these elements together, which on first listen "Reflection" buries their emotions in a nu-gazing wall of sound with big time results. They'll be supporting the release by heading out on the road opening for Title Fight during their upcoming autumn tour.
Balance and Composure - "Reflection"
Balance and Composure's neighbors Daylight are a heavy-hearted beauty in the realm of Pennsylvania's post-hardcore scene. Coming together in 2008 and experimenting with several different lineups before solidifying their sound in 2012, the Doylestown foursome plays melodic punk-addled music as envisioned through the filter of alternative rock's grungy past. Earlier this year, Daylight released yet another product of Will Yip's mastery in their debut album Jar on Boston-based punk staple Run for Cover Records. It's a collection of despondent listens that effortlessly bridges the roads separating your Quicksand and Dinosaur Jr. catalogs through metallic waves of distortion and hook-sinking choruses.
Hailing from our Stateside neighbors up north, that footnote alone should provide you with some idea as to what you can expect to hear from Toronto's Greys given that their Canadian counterparts METZ and Death from Above 1979 have been two of country's most eardrum-decimating exports in recent years. Since forming in 2011, the rising quartet has steadily released a series of EPs, most recently with arguably their heaviest and most relentless offering of guitar-based piledrivers in the three-track Drift (via Kind Of Like Records,) drawing up the obvious comparisons to '90s genre stalwarts Drive Like Jehu and the Jesus Lizard, but propelling themselves away from the pack as well through a lo-def, high velocity approach that should make it difficult for anyone else to keep pace with them in the future at this rate.
The midwest's version of post-hardcore has always been a more mathematical statement, and Indiana-based quartet Native are doing their all to uphold that gold standard while inserting some of their own brain-teasing trajectories into the equation as well. In 2010, they released their breakthrough debut Wrestling Moves, which signaled the rumblings of a return to knotted time signatures, bombastic riff plows and frontman Bobby Markos' elastic vocal freak-outs that redeemed the influence of the Blood Brothers and At the Drive-In nearly a decade earlier. After relentless touring, including opening for the likes of Thursday during their final bow back in 2011, Native will release their sophomore follow-up Orthodox on Sargent House, with first listen "Kissing Bridge" marking a shift toward heavy-weighted breakdowns without abandoning their knack for unpredictable noise calculations.
From the Bay Area down to Los Angeles, California's decades-steep history with all things punk and hardcore is consistently a hotbed for bands like Seahaven, the Torrance quartet who've begun their ascent from the same basements as their incredibly popular peers Joyce Manor. Unlike most bands on this list who focus on the physically thrashing side of the genre, Seahaven unabashedly push their melodic weight around its loftier corners as vocalist Kyle Soto keeps you guessing as to where they're heading on each track with a vocal range that fluctuates somewhere between pretty and ugly. 2011's debut Winter Forever (out now on Run for Cover Records) pust Seahaven in good company with the diverse likes of past tour mates Pianos Become the Teeth and Touché Amoré.