Box the Compass

Run the Easting Down

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There's something intriguing about this band that has little, if anything, to do with its music. The band's name and album title are both world-class nautical secret handshakes: to "box the compass" is to name the 32 points of the compass in order, whereas to "run one's easting down" is to sail along the high latitudes between Cape Horn, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia. There are echoes of these signifiers in song titles like "Points North," "Three Weeks In," and "Eastern Escape Route," but only one of those songs -- "Points North" -- makes any clear lyrical allusion to the nautical theme ("Some ships sail, but this one is sinking"). The music is, for the most part, post-punk rock & roll that hovers somewhere between emo and hardcore, both in terms of its sound and its lyrics, which generally address issues of inarticulate despair ("Signed Forever Yours"), articulate despair ("Three Weeks In"), failed relationships ("Hollow"), and vague encouragement ("Perennial"). The music is mostly engaging, the vocals aren't. This is one of those bands that will probably discover melody by about its third album, and will then start getting interesting -- at which point its fans will accuse it of selling out. Welcome to the scene, boys.

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