It’s been quite a long time since I listened to any emo of the sort I listened to in high school. And my high school days were the time of emo that required no makeup and black hair thank you. I’m talking about bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker; bands that had a post punk edge to their music but still sang about how much life sucks and getting your heart broken and all that kind of stuff. It was a bunch of poets trying to act like gangsters and it was pretty great to listen to and see at the time.
Coming along shortly after that emo scene began to cool Elliot Smith came along and helped me to notice that one could be both emotional and quiet without having to surrender to seeming to be a wimp. Smith had likely had enough of the hard-edged rock which his recently disbanded band Heatmiser played so well. I mention Smith only because of the Philadelphia post hardcore band Burned Out, Still Glowing who take their name from the first lyrics of the Elliot Smith demo “Now You Wanna Show Me How.”
Singer and guitarist Lennon Cantwell (can you guessed which rock star his parents named him after?) lets the Elliot Smith influence show initially on the opening of “Walkinghorse,” the first track from his band’s latest EP Image is Imaginary. There is that initial quiet and introspective tone which Smith holds, as though he is always just singing to himself, and Cantwell mimics this rather nicely before taking off with his own guttural howls of rattled frustrations of a relationship.
He puts the shouting aside for the clean sounding rocker “The Clown.” It takes on that ‘90s garage rock feel though it never sounds stale. Its vibrant play of bouncy bass and fancy guitar work helps with this. They take a bit of a groovy grunge-y turn on “Introvert” and then launch into the slow building rocker “A Fool for Truth.”
Anyone who listens to a lot of music will be able to tell that on Image is Imaginary, Burned Out, Still Glowing put a lot of heart into making their music. It oozes out of the speakers. The songs are tight and the production values are really good, however much of the time Image is Imaginary sounds like music that is well past its prime. It’s hard rock blues of the kind, which is made every day in basements and garages all across America.
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