Released the same week as the new self-titled EP from Not Tonight Josephine, the debut release from UK band Death Kindly Waits For Me ignited a fresh breath in the post hardcore scene. It set down, even in its raw but potential drenched proposition, a new adventure for the genre which for us made a marker all other offerings would now have to match up against. The Florida hailing quintet are the unfortunate ones to step up next and within hours of that striking release, the first to have to impress new demands and hopes. It is fair to say that Not Tonight Josephine do a fine job, their six track encounter might not have that special ingredient we found so thrilling but it out crafts and out shines most other post hardcore proposals over recent months to leave thick pleasure in its wake.
The band has been working on the new release since mid-2014, creating songs to push their sound on again from its acclaimed successor, the Common Gold EP released the previous year. With a more aggressive and voracious character to it, the band has certainly achieved that with the EP and it is right to suggest the release is their finest moment yet. Not Tonight Josephine formed in 2008 and has consistently lured in praising attention locally and across broader spotlights leading up to that previous EP. Live too they have earned a potent reputation, shows with the likes of A Day To Remember, Underoath, Ice Nine Kills, Rise Against, New Found Glory, and The Colour Morale only adding to that. Common Gold followed a line-up change and seemed to find that flush of heavier and arguably rawer adventure which now roars from within the Not Tonight Josephine EP. As mentioned at the start, for us the bar has been raised recently, but it is all relative to personal tastes and definitely this new protagonist leaves only the fullest satisfaction and impressed reactions.
Recorded with From First To Last duo Taylor Larsen and Spencer Sotelo, the EP opens with brief instrumental ;) . It is an atmospheric forty seconds which intrigues but is really the intro to the following ReEmerge. Why it has its own track listing it is hard to know but it is soon a thought of the past as the new track erupts with thumping beats and aggressive riffs bound in an instantly inviting melodic enterprise. Even as the song settles in to its tempestuous stride, the swings of drummer Christian Turt show no mercy, only impressing with their weight and tenacity. The raging vocal squalls of frontman Danny Garry and bassist Evan Foley also have a potent angst and attitude to them but it is the clean delivery of Garry that really impresses and steals the attention. It is fair to say that post hardcore bands have been predominantly impressing and grabbing our plaudits through the melodic side of their attack vocally, maybe too much of the same caustic shouting talking its toll on our patience and simply feeding expectations, and there is no doubting the might of that area in Not Tonight Josephine matched by the creative enterprise evolving round them. The use of strings and production twists only add to the drama and increasing success of the song, unpredictability an open weapon in the great start.
The following Nothing To Show is a brawl of vocal hostility and antagonistic sounds from the off, riffs and beats a delicious baiting as they intimidate and lead the listener into a maelstrom of vocal deliveries and twang lit grooves under a thunderous sky of attitude and sound. Not quite having the individuality of its predecessor or the imaginative punch, the song still intrigues and persuades with its mix of almost metalcore hostility, djent bred ferocity, and melodic expression woven by the skills of guitarists Scott Vallina and James Purcell. Whereas the last song broke ranks, this feeds expectations for the post hardcore sound, something you can say about Eyes which follows. Featuring a guest performance from Spencer Sotelo too, the track bellows and revolves with ear seizing adventure and satisfaction breeding pugnacity. It is wholly enjoyable but again does not surprise which is a real want in our admittedly demanding tastes.
Don’t Hold Your Tongue though is another matter, a fairer and mellower croon, it is bewitching. It is melodic rock at its captivating best, the balladry of sound and Garry’s outstanding vocals spellbinding and another excuse for us to say less caustic styling ahead please; save just for textural use. Song and band reveal a fresh charm to their songwriting and composing through it, with only the ever fiery beats of Turt offering dark and complimenting intensity.
The final song finds the band back in turbulent mood. Barefaced also shows the band to have the kind of invention and skill to help drive their genre on to new heights. The song is sensational, the EP’s top temptation where even the aggressive squalls work perfectly within the unbridled animosity and inventive spite of the encounter. It is a predator of a song but also an inescapable seduction, tearing the senses asunder then soothing the wounds with a vocal and harmonic caress. It has something special, a heavy dosage of startling and exciting imagination in thought and sound which reignites, what are becoming, tired ears for the standard post hardcore template.
Not Tonight Josephine band and EP is a highly enjoyable and impressing encounter; yes we know we have become picky and did pick here, but we come away from the release with satisfaction full and hopes for new creative blood in this genre re-energised a little more.
The Not Tonight Josephine EP is available from March 3rd
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