By: Eric G.
The Blue Room is an art house theater in Chicago that also hosts punk rock shows and the like, but I’m not sure what the point of this compilation is. It’s not a benefit or anything, but who cares? Some songs rock; others don’t. J. Robbins’ post-Jawbox band Burning Airlines has a couple of tracks on here, which are actually pretty catchy. I was curled up in a ball of boredom when I saw Burning Airlines over a year ago, but these songs show some actual tension and release and even resemble Jawbreaker at times. The Braid songs are typical thrusting emo anthems, which are tolerable in (very) small doses. Aaron Stauffer’s new band Gardener could lose the awkward horns but still provides some memorable hooks in “Shakedown Cruise.” His voice is undeniably addictive, mixing punkish attitude with a practiced affectation.
Richard Buckner sounds like a southern Nick Cave on his live version of “Believer”, and Edith Frost offers up another snippet of light melancholic despair with “Calling Over Time.” Stinking Lizaveta makes two impressive showings of post-metal math rock, recalling Thee Speaking Canaries on “Father Song” and a plodding Black Sabbath on “Ultimate Ass Kicking.” But The Dismemberment Plan steals the show on this compilation hands down. Abrasive guitars, odd meters, and quirky vocals fuel the band’s dark but intelligent pop. “What Do You Want Me To Say?” has a passive but angular guitar approach that spills into a classically catchy chorus. The vocals are unabashedly pop, but the lyrics are spliced with humor and sadness. “The City” is even better, taking the simplest ideas and turning them into a genius slice of new-wave-post-punk-electronic angst. Hell, the song is practically one chord, but there’s so much going on you barely even notice. Live At The Blue Room is worth seeking out if not only for The Dismemberment Plan.