Lower Forty-Eight Halfback

The guys from Lower Forty-Eight are brainy rockers. They prove it in their long song titles (i.e. "In the Shadow of The Great Emancipator"). They prove it in their self-penned one-sheet citing A Minor Forest and Bartok as influences. Most tellingly, they prove it by covering a tune, not by Velvet Underground, but by Arnold Schoenberg. They mostly live up to these ambitions with complex patterned post-hardcore that borrows equally from the songbooks of Fugazi and Slint. A problem with this (sm)arty rock mould comes when the band ditches it on a few tracks in preference of just rocking out, free of frills. These pieces fall flatter than Kenny G. at a Free Jazz festival. For the rest of Halfback, the band has genuine transcendent moments where tension and catharsis come back to back. (King of Sticks)