This Little Underground: Forecast on Relief in Abstract
Plus live reviews of Go Radio’s Jason Lancaster, Savannah, a Hero’s Fate, Blackbird Blackbird, Beat Culture
Published: July 2, 2014
More than congratulations, buzzing local label Relief in Abstract – which recently celebrated its third year (June 27, the Social) – deserves credit not just for continuance but for repping Orlando hard. That cover story we did on them last week revealed a potentially consequential revelation: that they never set out to be an electronic label and are specifically looking to outgrow that tag. If that big X-factor indeed plays out, it could be the next major local-music storyline. Stay tuned.
Lately, I’ve been fortunate to report on good pop-punk around town, but I know it’s a lamentable minority these days (thanks, Hot Topic and Warped Tour). But, as my casino average attests, all hot streaks eventually end. And my latest one was snuffed by Orlando’s A Hero’s Fate (June 23, Backbooth), who happily bob along – preternaturally so – among the uninspired ocean of mall-stamped bop-rockers. Their melodies are affable in utterly unexceptional ways and their simple songs are riddled with time-stamped clichés. It’s not hard to see why so many kids get their feet wet with this kind of terminally formulaic, entry-level stuff, but no one should be listening to it once they’re old enough to go to the bar.
As dire as pop-punk is, though, pop-rock is even more dumbed by inundation, to the point of near-meaninglessness. However, local band Savannah does it with some dash and distinction, something that a sizable chunk of this crowd already knew. Fronted by – look out, ladies – twin versions of the kind of nice boy that all my ex-girlfriends’ parents probably wished their little girl had brought home instead, this sensitive, well-scrubbed group features open melodies, spilling hearts and, naturally, a piano. It’s music for good kids – which, you know, whatever – but it also happens to be pretty good.
I don’t want to imply that they’re too marshmallow, though, at least not in the comparative context of a bill headlined by Jason Lancaster. The musician known for bands like Mayday Parade and Go Radio, which dissolved in a cloud of bitter drama, is now solo and local. Longtime fans can board the train because his basic high-gloss emo-pop template seems unchanged, for what it’s worth. There was some nice pedal steel, for which I am a well-known sucker, but even that couldn’t lend his aesthetic much edge. At least he’s got a voice and sense of melody that beam with incandescence.
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