01. 100 Yen
02. Window Seat
03. Sailors Grave
04. Wake Up
05. Cranford Ave
07. Rising Sun
11. Safe As Houses
13. (Rewind, Repeat...)
2007 6131 Records
With the glut of questionable or horrible cover art adorning most punk/indie/metal releases these days, it's getting too easy to judge a book by its cover. So when I saw the mellow blue cover of Miles Away's "Rewind, Repeat," I hit play expecting a generic emo-tinged whinefest with the occasional two-step breakdown for the folks who dance to show how the world doesn't understand their pain.
What I got instead was some surprisingly good hardcore. Thankfully, "Rewind, Repeat" manages to differentiate itself from the deluge of trend hopping, breakdown-obsessed hardcore bands currently drowning the market.
The production is clear and lets the driving guitar work and workhorse drumming shine, which brings to mind some early Comeback Kid. Miles Away doesn't offer much variety in the vocal department as they shift back and forth between impassioned shouting and gang vocals throughout the course of the album. The song structures are unbelievably tight; a breath of fresh air from the clichéd song writing that has plagued the genre in recent years. That's right. Nary an emo whine nor chugga-chugga breakdown to be heard here. The band kicks things off on "100 Yen" with a beeping alarm clock before they hit their breakneck stride and deliver 24 minutes of unselfconscious, passionate hardcore.
Sure, it can all sound very similar, and if this album were any longer, it would suffer greatly for it. Instead, Miles Away manage to pace things pretty well. The album is short, so it doesn't overstay its welcome, and the sequencing of the songs creates a sense of slowly building tension that's released on the last three tracks. Since most of the songs don't break the 1:30 mark, when the band does add thirty seconds to the track, it's time well spent. Miles Away loosens the song structures enough to incorporate a bit of guitar harmony and consequently more epic sounding tracks. "(Rewind, Repeat...)" is a (thankfully instrumental) acoustic outro that echoes the beeping alarm clock of the first track and serves to cap things off with a dose of atmosphere that feels completely natural after the release of "Safe as Houses" and "Affidavit."
These days, it seems like most bands are so busy trying to experiment with a specific genre that they don't bother learning the basics of song writing or structure. Which is what makes "Rewind, Repeat" so refreshing. Miles Away have an obvious affection for hardcore, and it shows in the care they put into constructing the album.
Bottom Line: Miles Away don't really bring anything new to the table with "Rewind, Repeat." But I don't have much of a problem with that. I'm curious to see what these guys are going to do next, though. Any band that puts this much thought and effort into writing their album has at least my respect, even if they aren't pulling anything new from their hats.