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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 98 - 09/28/04

Taking Back Sunday
Where You Want To Be
Victory Records

Taking Back Sunday have been one of the most defining bands of Emo. For our overseas readers (or cavemen Americans), this is the new category defined from Pop-Punk that has taken anxious, over-dramatic teens across the United States by storm. Suddenly, sounding morbidly depressed and being hopelessly upset about minor quarrels with girlfriends while playing sick guitar riffs has never seemed so cool.

Taking Back Sunday and other recent Emo bands take more from musicianship of progressive rock (whose key philosophy is: "put all your musical skill into a song, and completely drain your audience"), than it does punk (key philosphy: "sniff glue, play ranting power chords and ramble about the government while looking really cool in the process"). This maybe why you see more Emo kids gravitating towards Yes and Rush rather than the Sex Pistols or the Clash. Yet the clear blackness of the guitars here has an undeniable connection to nineties Metal and Grunge. Other "Emo" counterparts such as Story of The Year have cited Metallica and Soundgarden as major influences, and I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing Story of The Year perform "Enter Sandman" at a local venue near my home town.

Yet, Taking Back Sunday is - after all - a small town band, a characteristic that has defined many of the popular Emo cash cows out there. There is no definitive urban scene fostering this music, like how the Velvets founded the underground in New York City, or how the Doors and Guns N Roses made places like the Whisky-A-Go-Go famous in LA. No, Taking Back Sunday takes its roots from Amityville, New York, (that's right, just like in the horror movie) and communicates very well with much of suburban America.

How? By repetition to create theme: The lyric "To Hell with You and All Your Friends" is repeated stylistically through the rampant violence that constitutes lead singer Adam Lazzara's voice. With repetition, Taking Back Sunday create a fine gimmick but border on being just plain monotonous. Their themes are by no means surprising: TBS harbor the toils of broken dreams and relationships with this record. However, as the hallmark of true artists they make a very old subject refreshing and interesting.

With their charm, however abused and copied, Taking Back Sunday does to the suburban teen what the Velvets did to New York and what the Doors did to LA; they've started a real raw underground way of life. It's a suburban ideal that has spread like an urban trend.

Copyright © 2004 Matthew DeMello e-mail address

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