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It's regrettable, but any discussion of a band that sounds like The White Octave must include a three-letter word that everyone seems to hate. In The White Octave's case, it's not so painful, because they're one of the few bands in the emo genre that seems to be actively trying to shed the label--rather than just sitting around bitching about how inaccurate it is.

Style No. 6312, which will come out this summer, begins with a four-song demo that was recorded on four-track. This was a complete mistake because not only do these songs sound terrible (the limitations of the four-track are just too evident here), they aren't as well-formed musically as the rest of the CD, which was recorded by Bob Weston at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium Studios in Kernersville. Whereas the first four songs display just about every emo hallmark (screeching guitar, unintelligible vocals, lots of hollering, copious switching between loud and soft tones), the remainder of the CD shifts pretty dramatically to a cleaner, tighter, more restrained, and at the same time more bombastic sound. Weston is perhaps best known as the bass player for Shellac, whose ultra-abrasive music is nevertheless completely controlled--like a plane crash in which everyone remains calm. Weston's influence is evident throughout the album, but most especially on the two best tracks, "Adult Entertainment" and "Crossing the Rubicon," which incidentally happen to be side by side on the CD. The bass is suddenly more growlly, the drums snappier and tighter, and Stephen Pedersen's previously plaintive vocals are now downright menacing. The guitar still screeches (most of the time) and the band is still likely to suddenly stop and play a quiet melody in the midst of one of their rock anthems, but now it's nearly impossible to apply any sort of label to their music, other than just plain rock 'n' roll.

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