Seven Storey Mountain, At the Poles
It’s a shame these guys — okay, “guy”; apparently there used to be an actual band, but on At the Poles, Seven Storey Mountain is Lance Lammers playing pretty much everything — have gotten lumped the past in with that whole emo school. I can’t speak to what Lammers’s previous stuff sounds like, but to these ears At the Poles sounds like it owes a hell of a lot more to the early days of post-punk than anything else. The music nicely bitter in a Hüsker Dü-ish (or maybe Jawbreaker-ish) way, with utterly taut, propulsive drumming, fiery guitars, and Bob Mould-style yell-singing.
There’s a lot that’s familiar here, really — some Mission of Burma here, some Pixies there, a dash of Shudder to Think on top, with a teeny pinch of Helmet dynamics for color. The rock is raw, loud and furious but never out-of-control. Opener “So Cursed” has that math-y edge that makes me think of Chavez, while “The Crux” mashes together Grant Hart’s stuttering, behind-the-beat playing with Dave Grohl-esque vocals…and yeah, the Foo Fighters resemblance continues on through several more songs, particularly “Elevator.”
Don’t let the familiarity throw you, though, because Lammers certainly knows how to pound a hook in deep, pushing each song with a relentless energy that’s hard not to admire. Plus, as evidenced by “Elevator,” he really knows his way around a chorus. The one misstep is ending track “Tunnel Vision,” which slows things down so much it feels like a cover of somebody else’s song. Seven Storey Mountain works better for me, at least, when it keeps the pace speedy and the rhythms tight. At the Poles might not blow you away on the first listen (although “So Cursed” is pretty potent), but it’ll take root and grow, fast.