Kemo For Emo Returns in a Big Way
There’s always been some form of contention over how punk something is between punk rockers, especially over the subgenre of pop punk. The truth of it all, that my generation and your generation weren’t the truest of punks because true punks would be in their fifties and older today. But for me, pop punk was always a relative term, because even some of the elder punk bands had some poppy tunes. Back when emocore was everywhere, there was a Houston band who was pretty punk in their delivery of pop punk when Kemo For Emo emerged. Their album “What Happens In Omaha” was a breath of fresh air in a world where everyone tagged themselves as emo, even when they weren’t. Last year, the band started to show back up on shows around town, and I was elated to see that they had a new album coming out. Last week that album, “A Picture Perfect Romance” was released and the subsequent release party will commence this weekend at Fitzgerald’s. Just like when their last album was released, the band proves that even pop punk can sound amazing in a time when you barely hear distortion pedals anymore, while they craft one of the strongest and most diverse punk albums I’ve heard in a long time.
Things kick off with a more dynamic direction and squealing riffs on the opener, “The Cause.” These big open guitars and melodic hooks greet the listener, and prove that these guys are already ahead of the rest of what their genre does. Group vocals get met with an almost Fat Mike sneer, and you’re immediately grabbed by the catchy nature of the song. They keep things light in their approach while still mixing things up with snappy drums and a thudding bassline that accompanies the guitars before it ends. They follow this with a heavier sound on “The Straightline.” Keep in mind, it’s not traditional punk, but it’s definitely heavier than a lot of pop punk today. Again a hook heavy chorus proves the allure to these guys, in that they know how to write songs and stay ahead of the game. One of the standouts on the album, the song echoes memories of Bad Religion and Pennywise in how it’s delivered without sounding like they lifted from either. They mix it up further on the third track, “No Tell” leading with drums and vocals, allowing those big open guitars to come in for just a bit before exiting again. When the chorus kicks in, you can tell that this time around the four piece thought things out by adding multiple instrumentation while still holding on to the traditional punk themes.
Around the fourth song, “Heartfelt Hypocrisy,” you should be invested in this album as this song is another standout. The band takes another different direction while not steering from their initial intent. The track has plenty of hooks, but the way in which it was crafted is the truly engaging point. The instruments hop on and off in various places where they almost feel highlighted next to the vocals creating a sound that’s pretty intense. They drop another standout with “Track Record” where they go a little harder and emote that Rancid meets NoFX vibe complete with thick riffs and hooky as hell lead riffs. The snappy pace of the song makes you want to speed down the highway with it blaring from every window. They take another speedy approach with the sixth track “Last Straw” that steers away from their pop punk leanings. In fact the song employs speed metal guitar that’s closer to something from Megadeth or some of the more aggressive Iron Maiden tracks.
They close the album off with the slower speed of “Hold My Hand” and thus proving that they’re a band that’s more diverse than most that call themselves any form of punk rock. In an odd twist, the track is closer to early emocore while still holding onto punk principles. The album is definitely one you’ll want to listen to on repeat, In seven tracks the band proves that not only are they back in a big way, but they’ve grown in the process. You can get your own copy of “A Picture Perfect Romance” when Kemo For Emo plays their album release party at Fitzgerald’s on Saturday March 5th. The all ages show will feature sets from Kyle Hubbard, Four Letter Language, and Bottom of The Food Chain with doors at 8:00 and a $10.00 cover.