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Cleveland, OH's Brandtson (pronounced "bran-son") has produced a tough set of stripped-down post-hardcore on their debut album, Letterbox. Touches of discordant beauty give tracks like "Strand" a haunting depth of emotion, while locomotive rockers like "Round 13" may even appease headbangers. Over a churning mid-tempo morass of guitars, the band's lead vocals (provided both by guitarist Myk Porter and drummer Jared Jolley) just barely peek out of the mix, aptly reflecting the recurrent lyrical themes of personal struggle and dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, Brandtson's basement-damp, lo-fi sonics will endear them to emocore purists, while their grasp of melody and occasional harmonic sweetness makes possible a certain amount of crossover appeal. A promising introduction.

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