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October 5, 2004

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Jade Tree have been one of the independent US labels pioneering the emo/indie scene for the last few years but this is probably their first release to go beyond those boundaries and into the world of experimental post-punk.

TAAS were formed from the ashes of hardcore bands Botch and Kill Sadie and have definitely retained their hardcore influences. Having supported Blood Brothers on their last tour and production credits for Oxeneers going to Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves producer Matt Bayles it would be easy to categorise them in the same vibe but TAAS deserve to be heard free of comparisons. It’s true they like to play hard and fast in the same vain as Blood Brothers but their own potential takes them much further than the sound of a jagged post-punk band.

With a prominent distorted bass, piercing and pounding drumming, screamo vocals and a love for reverb there is the fear that the sound could be a little suffocating but TAAS manage to produce melody in madness. Last year’s debut EP showed a clear potential but a lack of instrumentation let that potential slip away. Thankfully, however, this first full length LP doesn’t lack in any way. With a lot more emphasis placed on the backing organ tracks, front man Steve Snere is allowed to explore his vocals and this helps reinforce his haunting tales of escapism from Middle America while echoing layers of guitar create a vivid soundscape.

There is perhaps a little too much exploration and experimentation in some places though. A notable example is the seven-minute Gadget Arms. With the album title already suggesting an undertone of pretentiousness this track does no good in silencing that tone. But fortunately TAAS only seem to lose their concentration once or twice and this is easily forgivable for a first full length.

With so many awful ?°»emo’ bands irritatingly clogging up the airwaves TAAS offer a pleasant reminder that not every band associated with the punk scene like to stick to a formula. But perhaps the best thing about Oxeneers is that is doesn’t represent a finished article in the slightest and TAAS will hopefully continue to develop their sound and continue to offer an alternative to spoon-fed drivel.

BBC Online

Mike Hills