Thursday, August 20, 2009

Top 50 albums of the 00s - #50, Rival Schools: United by Fate

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

We all have our own favorite musical "tragedies" of varying scales. Certainly we should all agree that Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix left us too soon, right before what we sure to be fruitful periods in their careers. But you could point to any number of other groups that simply called it quits when by all appearances they were on the verge of something great. I haven't put together a list or anything (yet), but one band that would definitely find itself on it is Quicksand. In my mind, they were the height of post-hardcore rock, or whatever you want to call it, with aggressive riffs laid over technically precise yet pounding drums. When they broke up, I was crestfallen. Crestfallen I tell you.

But frontman Walter Schriefels didn't take too long to put together another outfit ready to stand on the shoulders of what Quicksand had accomplished. Rival Schools was a mini super-group of sorts, joining Schrifels with members of CIV, Glassjaw, Iceburn, Youth of Today, and Die 116. While the union didn't seem like an overly serious endeavor, they put together a kickass album. It covers all the bases, at times sounding like Quicksand lite, and others attacking the listener with everything they've got.

This record holds up really well. I don't find myself spinning it as often as I should, but every time I do, I'm reminded of how sewn up it is. The guitars work perfectly on each track, either fanning out to spread across the spectrum of the song or crunching and churning. Highlights include "Traveling by Telephone" and "Used for Glue." They still sound fresh - especially in this day and age where nobody but Billy Corgan wants to actually rock (just wait, I'll contradict myself on that on within a week when we get to album #47, but the point stands). The album closer, "Hooligans for Life" has a triumphant vibe that perfectly sends you on your way. You can't listen to it and fail to have pep in your step.

The album was released on August 28, 2001. That's not the luckiest timing to launch a new outfit. The fair amount of attention and excitement surrounding these guys quickly evaporated. In many ways, this album is a tie to the previous decade. Because really how many post-hardcore bands can you think of after this one? The four band members all went on to "less intense" groups or solo projects after this, and the genre basically went with them. They've recently reunited, but I don't think they're going to make a trip to Buenos Aires anytime soon. Anyone who's seen them recently care to comment?

OK, so that's #50. We'll get to the rest day by day when I can find the time. Normally I'll embed videos, but since Universal Music Group is run by dickheads, you can't embed their videos. Still I recommend checking out:
Rival Schools - Used for Glue
Rival Schools - Good Things

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