With silkscreen cover art and a handwritten inventory number on Swordswallower, the Brooklyn-based Tournament (ex-Paragraph) have released an impressive debut. The press sheet is informative and avoids sounding too infomercial, and the personal approach (except for the handwritten "promo" on the inner sleeve) make this an appealing package from Trip Machine Laboratories.
Their bio shows they come from a diverse range of previous bands, and the musicianship and blending of influences shows. They may have started Tournament as an excuse "to drink beer and play music," but their pedigree keeps them from being another generic party band while paying homage to the sounds that have shaped them as musicians.
The band features dual guitarists, bass, and drums. Oftentimes the lead/rhythm pair of guitars will play off of each other in a similar fashion to the more aggressive Dischord acts and there is a heavy Drive Like Jehu sound. Similar to Drive Like Jehu, the vocals can hinge near screamo-land, but they don't fully go into the high-pitch wavering annoyance typical of the genre, instead echoing an angry style like Guy Picciotto.
Tournament relies largely on post-punk style guitars, most notably in the six-minute "Traveler," which is sandwiched in the middle of the five-song EP between two/three minute burners. This song maintains the same feel as the other four, faster songs on Swordswallower. During its slower moments there are shades of Planes Mistaken for Stars.
The other tracks tear by quickly and, despite my unfamiliarity with the band, the songs still have a familiar ring to them. Again, think Drive Like Jehu, but with the songs condensed and a little angrier. This is for fans of post-hardcore, but minus the artiness that sometimes detracts from the fun. They can get a little samey, as the vocals don't vary beyond Masback's screams, but the arrangement of the disc minimizes this effect and the energy level never wavers. Even when they slow things down a little, the palpable anger keeps it interesting.
I'm not really a fan of EP’s, but I enjoyed this and I'm curious to hear what Tournament can do with a longer release. Swordswallower ends somewhat abruptly on "The Bad Word." Despite it's build-up at the start of the song, the band's sound led me to expect a climatic finish that time doesn't allow with the EP format.
The entire EP is streaming on their Myspace. Also: bonus points for using a one word title with three double u’s.
7.0 / 10
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The Weakerthans' video for the song "Tournament of Hearts" has been made available online here. The song is taken from the band's latest full-length offering, Reunion Tour.
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