L'antietam - Family (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Family (2006)

Slave Union

New Hampshire is responsible for some of my favorite bands of the last 10 years. Between...uh...Mandy Moore...and...uh...

Alright, so admittedly, the wonderful tax-free state of New Hampshire has not exactly been a musical hotbed since it debuted as the Province of New Hampshire back during the days of the original 13 colonies. However, a basement show attended late last year by myself, a couple friends and very few others showcased two of the state's more promising punk rock acts here in the 21st century: Furnace, a d-beat styled unit who put out a split 7" with the band they played with -- and L'antietam, that band, a proto-screamo foursome with complex and beautiful instrumentation and a variety of influences.

Family collects everything the band has recorded thus far (the aforementioned split, the We Like It When the Red Water Comes Out 7", two songs off a comp), plus 11 new, noticeably improved songs. "Am:Jm" is one of them, and it's straight up fantastic; dynamic percussion stops and starts throughout, guitars weave and bob conveying both somber and playful tones, and passionately screamed vocals ask to "hope you can see your face and see today and remember how we used to sing our little tune; we can't remember the words." If the band's eventual full-length is anything like this, I'm already foaming at the mouth. Some of the other songs are even more frantic; "Dear Good Man" is one of many, spazzing with a ton of tempo changes for as long as 2:47 and bringing to mind their contemporaries in what would be a more tempered La Quiete. However, the band occasionally shows an even softer, more reflective side in a mid-`90s indie/emo sense; in fact, the appropriately titled "1:04" conjures images of another Italian outfit: Settlefish -- specifically, the beginning of that band's "Kissing Is Chaos" with its lightly groaned, foreshadowing noises.

Those new songs in particular are so promising that it causes Family quite a bit of an uneven quality. Don't be misguided; the previously vinyl-only recordings are good, but don't quite showcase the band's willingness to branch out and subsequently expertly execute a style like they do early on here. Instead we fall back on the band's trademark raw energy and guitars that are just as lively. But compare to the progression shown in admirable stunts like "Outro (a safe one)" and they suddenly start to pale quickly.

It seems like L'antietam knows full well these new songs aren't totally cohesive, but that's likely why they're packaged within a compilation -- to be enjoyed as the short bursts they are and not quite as a cohesive block. Nonetheless, if and when they do manage to collect their brand of raw, inspired energy and intensity into a solid, sensible unit, it'll surely be a trip into manhood. For now, I'm all about some sleepovers at the Family home.

We Saw the Umbrella Man