|Label:||Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic|
When it comes to unfair assessments of youth-culture confabs, few festivals get a rawer deal than the Warped Tour. Throw a handful of inked-and-pierced types in the mix and suddenly everyone in the older-than-30 crowd assumes they're dealing with an undifferentiated mass of school-skipping, drug-taking, hood-ornament-stealing ne'er-do-wells. In fact, Warped presents perhaps the most eclectic traveling show of the summer. If you still think the tour sounds like one long NOFX tribute, your prejudices could use some refreshing.
For proof, check out new albums from Paramore and Gallows; they might be the two most dissimilar acts on Warped this summer. It's supremely unlikely that anyone in Paramore has ever skipped school, taken a drug, or stolen a hood ornament. Nice Christian kids from outside Nashville, the band plays upbeat pop-punk emo-rock that sounds like Fall Out Boy meets That Dog. In an age of copycat Hawthorne Heights clones, Paramore's big draw is 18-year-old frontwoman Hayley Williams, a self-assured firebrand who makes that upbeat pop-punk emo-rock work as more than a repository for teenage guys' fear of females.
On Riot!, Paramore's major-label follow-up to its 2005 indie hit, All We Know Is Falling, Williams sings about battling doubt and insecurity in a voice far more sympathetic than those of many of her peers on Fuse. Her appealing worldview is pretty succinctly expressed by the title of the album's opener, "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic," in which she tells a pal, "You've hit your one wall/ Now find a way around." Sound corny? Not when Williams shouts it out over crunchy power chords pushed to mall-pop perfection by producer David Bendeth, who honed his skills on lesser efforts by the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Hawthorne Heights. Several cuts on Riot! approximate the tween-pop sugar rush of "Since U Been Gone"; should the band catch on at Top 40 radio, Kelly Clarkson fans bummed out by My December's doom and gloom might have a new American idol to look up to.
Gallows stand no chance of a Top 40 breakthrough; an unruly English outfit hailed by the trusty hype masters at Kerrang! as "the world's most exciting new band," Gallows throw crash-and-bash post-hardcore tantrums that offer a pretty convincing approximation of the kind of stuff you'd have been likely to hear at underground DIY punk shows in the mid-'90s--back when emo meant guys in white belts and auto-mechanic jackets playing 80-second songs with no choruses. Gallows built its reputation as a live act, but on Orchestra of Wolves, an excellently titled debut, the band makes the most of the oppressive recording-studio thing by tricking out its tunes with creep-show organ licks and slow, quiet bits where singer Frank Carter can hold forth intelligibly, if not intelligently, about wanting to drown himself in you tonight. Come watch them get punk in drublic and see for yourself.