I realize that we are more than halfway through 2006. I realize that Jena Berlin recently began recording their follow-up to this album. But, I have two solid reasons for reviewing this album so late: 1) I never heard of the band prior to receiving the album in the mail a few weeks back, and 2) Passion Waits as the Program Keeps Going is an impressive album that needs to be brought to your attention.
Jena Berlin is not a singer-songwriter, though the name may tell you otherwise. Jena Berlin is in fact a five-piece post-hardcore group from Philadelphia. They've been around for a couple of years already, playing shows all along the Eastcoast. But what do they sound like? Glad you asked.
It didn't take long, not more than a minute, into Passion Waits as the Program Keeps Going to decipher the main musical influence of the band. "I Should have been a Painter" is highlighted by the interweaving and angular guitars of Mark Eble and Craig Myers. Vocally, Jon Loudon mixes a combination of softly yelled spoken-words as well as coarse screams. His vocal stylings are not unlike Boy Sets Fire vocalist Nathan Gray.
Throughout the album, Jena Berlin do experiment with some different instrumentation, most notably the use of electronic programming and keyboards. There is also the candid appearance of acoustic guitars on the interlude "A Bar in Michigan." But back those keyboards/pianos. They climb in and out of various songs over the course of the album, but none is better executed than that on "Nothing Personal, Just Business." The beginning of the song is directed in a more hardcore-esque direction akin to the heavier songs on Thursday's Full Collapse. But then smack dab in the middle of the song, things abruptly change with the insertion of pianos, very melancholic vocal harmonies, and tasteful drums.
Passion Waits and the Program Keeps Going may not be considered a relevant album as 2005 is in the past, but time isn't everything. If you're into creative and atmospheric indie rock, heavier post-harcore, and "screamo" you should look into this band. They blow all the acts of those respective genres polluting the airwaves and Internet out of the water.
8.0 / 10
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