The Warmers - The Warmers (Cover Artwork)

The Warmers

The Warmers (1996)


I bought the Warmers' first and only CD a month or two ago and, after a first few weeks of fervent listening, put it aside in favor of other things. To be honest, I simply forgot about it for a while. But today, after listening to a few songs, it all came rushing back.

To call the Warmers esoteric is perhaps generous. They are a post-hardcore outfit who, while referring to hardcore/punk at least tangentially in nearly all of their songs, generally go in an entirely different direction. It is like little else out there, and simply put, the music takes some getting used to. Within one song, the music can go from slow, basically spoken vocals over a few repeated notes and an almost inaudible high-hat to blistering punk rock. "The Lowdown" and "Poke It with a Stick," two of the best songs on the album, showcase this technique.

The Warmers only hit the speed and ferocity of older punk music occasionally, normally sticking to quieter, though no less effective riffs. The band compliments each other so well that even slight shifts in tempo can change the entire mood of the song, lifting certain parts to an emotional intensity that yelling can't necessarily reach. Amy Farina's drums -- which I first heard with the Evens, another unusual, though not altogether similar, band -- are phenomenal; they hold the music together. Even when Alec MacKaye and Juan Luis Carrera play notes that are staccato almost to the point of being disjointed, the songs are cohesive.

Normally, the band maintains something of a middle ground between fast, loud endeavors and extremely slow efforts like "Thin Air." "Chuck Your Brains Out" is the only consistently fast, hard song, although many others lapse in and out of this area. The majority of the songs, which cannot be classified in either extreme, are difficult to pin down. The Warmers pack most of the songs full of digressive tempo shifts. The rest of the music is not exactly simplistic, but there are only a couple main parts to each song; these are complimented by short digressions.

Vocally, MacKaye and Carrera compliment the jagged music wonderfully and the harmony between them and Farina in a few songs makes my hair stand on end. Solely because of this harmony, "Your Great Escape" is my favorite song on the CD.

The CD contains three noticeably slower songs. Of these, one, "Snake Charmer," the opener, is wildly successful, thanks mostly to MacKaye's ability to create an emotional pull vocally. The other two, "Thin Air" and "No One Like Me," are interesting, but not overly appealing. The former, while effective, gets a little tedious over the course of its almost five minutes. The latter features a cadence with lyrics sung over it. It is interesting for a while, but, honestly, also gets a little tedious. The trouble is, the complexity of the main part seems to have superseded any desire for tempo shifts or anything else to break up the song.

The Warmers takes a few listens to get used to, but once that is accomplished, it sticks in the mind and will not let go. The music is interesting and the vocals compliment it beautifully. An entirely worthwhile buy.