Criteria, When We Break

Criteria, When We Break

Rarely does a band I’ve never really listened to blow me away the first time I see them live. Usually, I have to build up some sort of familiarity with their catalog to really “get into the groove” (so to speak). Criteria, however, had me running to the merch table as soon as they left the stage following their recent gig in Houston, cash in hand, ready to buy up anything they’d released.

Now, I’m going to have to eat crow a little bit here. A while back, I gave The White Octave a negative review in these pages (Stephen Pedersen fronted that band before forming Criteria — he also was in Cursive in the ’90s). I have to admit, I’m still not a huge fan of The White Octave. But it almost seems as if what The White Octave hinted at has taken its fully-realized form in the guise of Criteria. There’s still that slightly Cure-ish vocal delivery style, but now it seems more focused and precise. The music itself brings Rival Schools or Sensefield to mind — driving guitars, interesting leads and fills to color in the spaces, and a monster rhythm section that is also super-tight. There’s also lots of melody to be found on When We Break — the songs are all infused with a pop sensibility beneath the angularity of some of the arrangements, and there are some very cool call-and-response and group vocal moments that actually don’t seem forced.

Criteria’s When We Break is highly recommended if you’re slowly becoming an indie-rock curmudgeon like myself, who just wants a band to make good solid music that excites without the pretense and trappings that are associated with “hip scenester-ism” these days. In response to such things, my friend Dwayne recently (and probably rhetorically) asked, “Can’t we all just rock?” Criteria’s response? Yes. Yes we can.

(Saddle Creek Records -- P.O. Box 8554, Omaha, NE. 68108-0554;; Criteria --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Thursday, March 16th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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