Soundtrack to a Headrush

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Although they hail from Louisville, KY, Emanuel have little in common with the artsy Squirrel Bait/Slint axis most often associated with that city. Would that they did, unfortunately, because their debut for Vagrant Records is pretty much straight by-the-numbers emo-punk-pop. Singer Matt Breen has a standard-issue screamy rock voice that sounds like a tenth-generation copy of Faith No More's Mike Patton minus the hip-hop influences, and his lyrics will sound oddly familiar to everybody who kept journals during their junior years in high school. Musically, the album rocks hard enough, but with little in the way of surprises other than the way that a few tracks, such as "The New Violence" and "The Willing," veer off into garage-raunch territory à la the Hellacopters and the (International) Noise Conspiracy. (Not coincidentally, those songs and the title track are by far the best on the album.) While there's nothing overtly wrong with Soundtrack to a Headrush, the utter familiarity of this album will either make Emanuel the next big thing in some circles or cause their potential audience to dismiss them as clones. Maybe a little of both.

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