(Hotfoot Records, CD)
Ask 10 teenagers for a definition of "emo" and you'll likely receive 10 different answers, several anguished looks and at least one lone teardrop, meandering down the side of a mascara-clad, side-bang-covered face. Investigate further and you'll encounter all manner of sub-genre hair-splitting. As the kids themselves might say, "Dude, if you have to ask . . ."
One thing, at least, is certain: Burlington's Waiting For a Miracle are a talented emo-core band. The group's self-titled debut - released on Hotfoot Records and recorded by Unearth's Ken Susi - rocks, shreds and weeps in all the appropriate ways. This is emo, after all.
Hans Olsen (ex-Drowningman) and Matt Barron's guitars crunch behind precise and occasionally spastic metal riffs, as Ben Fine's bass lines thump. Former Fallback front man Matthew O'Neil provides soaring, angsty vocals.
I do love me some good hardcore drumming, and in Burlington it doesn't get better than Drowningman vet Joe Villemaire. Here, he rocks in ways that would make your average jam-band drummer's head explode.
Numerous tempo changes and breakdowns are common to the many strains of hardcore. WFAM truly excel at such displays of technicality, often switching gears three and four times in a single song. The changes in "End This Tonight" and "Don't Say I Do" are particularly impressive.
A note to aspiring emo-core bands: If you can't "break it down," switch to country. The subject matter is similar and it's certainly easier to play.
Speaking of subject matter, what would you honestly expect from a band called Waiting For a Miracle? If you said heart-wrenching pathos, you'd be correct. Even the album's track listing reads like a page from Nick Drake's diary.
Although O'Neil ably conveys anguish, he doesn't offer much beyond your average heart-on-sleeve musings. This isn't uncommon in emo, and it's not necessarily a deal breaker for fans of the genre. Still, it's safe to say the lyrics lack depth. I get it: You're sad. Now explain why, without saying "it hurts."
All told, this is a strong debut from a gifted local band. Waiting For a Miracle contains enough pop sparkle for the MTV set, while rocking hard enough to satisfy Rites of Spring/Jawbreaker purists. Who says you can't have it both ways?
Catch WFAM's CD release party on March 28 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge with The Maneuvers and Orion.