Our American Cousin - How's This for a Diploma? (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Our American Cousin

How's This for a Diploma? (2006)

No Sleep

In a mere three songs, Our American Cousin prove they've already got a firm grasp on both 1990s emo and indie rock, drawing from a variety of acts -- the most obvious being American Football, At the Drive-In and caP'n Jazz -- to create How's This for a Diploma?, a dainty, mesmerizing 14-minute effort.

For Diploma's entirety we're treated to jangly, jumpy measures, with little regards to common structure in the best of ways. OAC's vocals flow like the slightly nervous, frantic yell of Cedric Bixler-Zavala circa in/CASINO/OUT, albeit toned down most of the time. Opener "Ernesto Perez One. Ernesto Perez Two." squeals its guitars and drops in bits of screeching strings, piano plinks (free-form at one point, dramatic another), and even accordion (?) for good measure, and places a sweet break in the music halfway through for one vocalist to yelp "Let's keep each other sweet...!" One of the most surprising moments of the EP comes at the heartstring-tugging intro of "Lights Out (Sock Full of Batteries)" -- it's straight out of the Get Up Kids' Something to Write Home About, and the additional element pleasingly mixes things up even further.

At least this time around, there shouldn't be any major distractions to sway the focus off Our American Cousin's more than amiable acts at hand here.

How's This for a Diploma? at the band's Punknews.org band page