I have been a fan of EMAROSA since their first two records, and albeit, the post-hardcore scene isn’t my typical forte, but I couldn’t help but be captivated by the vocals of then-frontman, Johnny Craig. You would likely know him from his exploits in fellow post-hardcore outfit DANCE GAVIN DANCE, but this was actually the group that was my introduction. His R & B stylings touched me in places that are usually reserved for Mrs. Cheese. Call it a guilty pleasure. That said, when I heard that Johnny had been ousted from the band in 2011, I held little hope for these guys. Adding insult in injury, they posted live photos with some crybaby named Tillian Peterson, and then the other half of the group quit. Bummer. But, alas, EMAROSA is still alive, with new singer, Bradley Walden, and a new disc named Versus, which is out now through Rise Records.
As could be guessed from my diatribe about their prior vocalist, my expectations were high for whoever would take the reins. After all, they would have to be capable of performing older songs live, as well as retain a portion of the sound with which the group has become associated. Well, at first listen, I felt that the guys had found the perfect replacement to fill the void. Songs such as “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play”, “American Deja Vu”, and “A Hundred Crowns” show off the vocal prowess of their newly added singer. The songs are punchy, and hold the raucous spirit that had become so familiar. Unfortunately, thereafter, many of the tracks lose momentum. Others set the group back, failing to capture the energy, edge and engaging melodies that made EMAROSA stand out from all their Rise Records label mates. “Mad” and “1996 On Bevard” stand as the only highlights I found on the second half of the record.
On the front of finding a formidable replacement for Johnny Craig, the group has located the best possible voice to bequeath the mic. In fact, I blame not the new frontman for the lackluster filler material on the disc. Bradley Walden’s melodies correlate very fittingly to the music; his range and delivery blend hints of Soul, R & B, and Pop in a very fluid manner, while managing to not sound whiney. No, my issue stands with the musical foundation that was laid for the singer. The two records previous to Versus offered a better ratio of up-tempo numbers, keeping the overall product much more interesting. However, on the upside, Mrs. Cheese was fond of the entire record. As for me, I haven’t lost all faith in EMAROSA, but I will keep my fingers crossed that their next record finds them in a less lethargic mood.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play”, “American Deja Vu”, “A Hundred Crowns”, “Mad” and “1996 On Bevard”
WRITTEN BY FRENCH CHEESE