Various Artists

The Revolution Will Begin in the Blink of an Eye, Vol. 1

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Mono vs. Stereo is a new label from Tennessee, a small spot on the map called Franklin to be specific. The bands on its first release, The Revolution Will Begin in the Blink of an Eye, Vol. 1, are obscure down to the last drop and as earnest as the day is long. Almost all of them specialize in honest, guitar-based, and emotional punkish rock -- what most people call emo. The exceptions are Matthew Thiessen and the Earthquakes, who deliver a piano ballad that is maudlin enough to make Elton John feel slightly embarrassed; Embraced and Boywunder, who both play Glassjaw-styled screamo (or screaming emo); Matt Beckler, who tries to pull off an emo meets trip-hop ballad and almost succeeds; and Andy Zipf, who sounds like he is auditioning for a role as Richard Ashcroft's stunt double. The rest of the bands play various shades of emo. Some go the lighter Jimmy Eat World route of melody, like House of Heroes, whose "Mercedes Baby" sounds like it could have been on side two of Bleed American; the sort-of promising Wellwater, who slip a little dub into their otherwise standard emo power ballad; and Marcco, whose "A Beautiful Life" sounds like an ungodly cross between Coldplay and the All-American Rejects. Some of the bands play a more dramatic style of emo with desperate vocals, tempo shifts, and a generally more exciting feel, like Showdown, whose "Vow of Silence" takes on emo, screamo, death metal, and thrash before its 3 1/2 minutes are through; the Connotations, whose "We Are Trouble by the Truckloads" sounds like an emo collision between the Cure and Fugazi; the Uriah Omen; and the Back Alley Fights, whose "The Cellar" is a desperate and involving track, maybe even the best on the disc. Mono vs. Stereo definitely has its finger on the pulse of modern post-punk revival in 2003; it is too bad that the bands playing the emo and screamo are so derivative and, apart from a couple of them, so lacking in excitement or imagination. It would be better to just buy copies of Bleed American and Worship and Tribute and wear them out.

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