The discovery I made was that not all music message boards work in the same way. In fact, it seems to be far more standard for message boards and file transfer websites to operate as a sort of file sharing network that works without use of a torrent or downloading program. As soon as I found out that a board that most of my friends post on (which I normally hate due to the sheer amount of drama that seems to occur on it) has a ton of full albums posted on it every day, I started lurking it. And within a couple of weeks, I felt bad about merely downloading stuff off that board, and joined in order to upload things on occasion. I still avoid the drama laden threads that seem to be that board's usual stock in trade, and there's nothing on my user profile that would let any of the kids on that board that I don't want to interact with figure out who I am, but I'm on there, and I'm downloading records to beat the band.
Here's what that has to do with today's anthem. A lot of the stuff that gets posted on this board is stuff I've either heard or heard of, but every once in a while something will get posted that I have no clue about. Generally, I don't bother to download these things, as enough things get posted that I actively want without my checking out stuff I've never heard before. However, every once in a while, something will look interesting, or I will just be bored, and I'll download something I have never heard of.
This was the case with the demo by the band Polar Bear Club. The person who posted it posted a picture of the band playing along with the link to the file, and they looked like they were rocking out, so I figured I'd go ahead and give it a chance. Truth to tell, though, I didn't expect too much. The people who post on this message board's tastes tend to run towards the scattered remnants of the emo scene of the mid to late 90s--which is not to be confused with the modern emo scene, which is far more melodic and pop-oriented than the original emo scene was. No, the unfortunate fact is that most people these days call the old emo stuff "screamo", which is the most appalling name for a genre that I've ever heard, and I really try to avoid using it. Anyway, I was worried that Polar Bear Club would be run of the mill third rate Saetia worship, or worse. But, I figured, what the hell.
Well, I needn't have worried. While Polar Bear Club does hark back to the emo scene of the mid-90s, they remind me of what was best about that scene, rather than the many bands who took from that scene the misguided lesson that songwriting wasn't important as long as you had plenty of cathartic screaming climaxes to your songs. Polar Bear Club leaves the cathartic screaming climaxes out of their music for the most part, instead structuring their songs around tough, loud, yet melodic riffing, and dual-vocal singing that is gruff and occasionally breaks into screams but for the most part contains real melodies. The best song on the demo is the first one, "To The Engravers", and it's this one that I keep returning to over and over. It begins with quietly strummed guitar, over which both vocalists begin singing, "Whoa-oh-oh!" Soon, the rest of the band comes in with a driving guitar riff that complements the melodic "whoa-oh"s of the vocalists perfectly. After a few repetitions, the band changes into an equally driving verse, before dropping into a half-speed chorus. The whole time, the intensity of the song never abates. Despite being structured more like old-school emo, similar to Ordination Of Aaron or something, the sheer anthemic nature of the chorus reminds me of bands like Latterman or the best work by Hot Water Music--that kind of triumphant, energetic roar. It makes you want to go out and conquer the world or something, and when it's over, you just want to hear it all over again. At least, I do. That's why it's today's anthem--because I've played it at least 10 times so far, and I don't intend to stop now. I guess this is why it's a good idea to take chances on new stuff sometimes. Check it out for yourself--hopefully you'll love it as much as I do.
Polar Bear Club - To The Engravers