Jena Berlin are a post-hardcore band striving to continue the politi-punk legacy of Ian Mackaye by injecting their aggressive, yet singable bursts of sound with educated lyrical narratives. How intellectualized are these guys from Philly? Well, they name their band after the two cities Karl Marx went to college, and they’ve got a socialist view of the music community. Put simply, camaraderie not competition. This, their second full length, translates from Latin to “where are we going?” Jena Berlin are not your average hardcore band.
“I Swear We’re Leaving” has serious Tool leanings and its chorus of “Echo, echo, echo, echo, echo, echo, echo/ Nothing new here, and I wonder if it will ever change, echo/ Same shit, we write history books with colors easy on the eyes” is the album’s first moment of brilliance.
Like Hot Water Music or their spin-off band The Draft, these guys have found a balance between melodic and heavy in a way that could have very easily gone bad. Dare I say that they teeter on the edge of where emo originated, with the drama bleeding on their sleeves. Thankfully, instead of falling into the oblivion of crap, they hang out on the respectable end of the emo-core spectrum, in the company of bands like Jersey neighbors, Lifetime.
I love being pleasantly surprised, and being challenged to reexamine my opinions about certain brands of music.
Jump Start Records: www.jumpstartrecords.com