the last place you look, See the Light Inside You

the last place you look, See the Light Inside You

Looking backwards from a musical landscape populated by plenty of heavy/soft dynamic shifts, fiery power-chord guitars, and yelled/sung melodies, it occurs to me now the thing that drew me to the whole emo thing wasn’t really the music. Okay, the music was part of it, I’ll admit, but the thing that really appeals to me, then and now, is the naked, unashamed feeling of it all — “emo” as I first encountered it was all about honesty and pain and raw, well, emotion.

There was no overarching agenda, whether to party down or overthrow The Man, but rather just a burning need to rip open scars, let all the frustration out, and connect with everybody out there listening who could listen and say, “yes! That’s me, too!” Emo was like one big sonic bonding experience, a shared way to cope with things.

These days, where the bulk of the post-emo alternarock crowd — the Early Novembers, Spitalfields, and Fall Out Boys of the world — fail is in that connection. All those bands have their fans, obviously, but I’m just not feeling the same kind of kinship, the sympathy. They just don’t do it for me, for whatever reason. For a long time I figured the break was on my end, honestly, with me having shifted from being a kid to being a Jaded Old Dude, but now I’m not so sure.

See, the last place you look’s See the Light Inside You brings all those old feelings, that old connection, home to me in a big, big, awesomely huge way. They hit the emo sweet spot like few bands have in this decade, pointing backwards towards pioneers like Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, Starmarket, or Sense Field more than towards the bulk of their contemporaries, and that’s a damn good thing. Literally halfway into “Just Let It Go,” with its bitterly heartfelt plea to let a relationship die rather than fake it along, and I’m fucking hooked, head nodding along, hands drumming on the table, a wistful smile on my face.

As you can probably guess from that last bit, of course, the music measures up nicely, as well. The Jimmy Eat World resemblance runs strongly throughout, particularly that band’s habits of shifting seamlessly from speaker-shredding blasts to melodic emo-boy passages and incorporating subtle electronics into full-on guitar rockers, but there’re plenty of the other touchstones here. The music’s got a Sense Field-esque muscularity to it, with vocalist Nava evoking SF frontman Jonathan Bunch’s tense, impassioned urgency, and a Hot Water Music-ish epic feel, to boot. Then there’re the heavy, loud bits, where the band betrays its more over-the-top screamo past a bit, edging near to Shadows Fall/Killswitch Engage territory.

The choruses make you want to close your eyes and pump your fist in the air, while Richard Sherwood, Derek Young, and Kevin Pool’s guitars blaze and roar, all distortion and melody and rippling tension, drummer Andy Moths hammers away with thunderous precision, and singers Nava and Pool trade effortless low/high harmonies. Nava’s voice threw me off a little at first, but I quickly grew to love the rough, thick-sounding, Bob Mould/Matt Skiba snarl and strained/restrained, down-and-out sincerity. Pool, for his part, glides beautifully over the top, and the pair of them surprise me on tracks like album ender “Take The Time” with the gorgeous way they manage to fit their voices together. I’m a big, big sucker for the low-/high-range dueling vocalists (see: 1997, Braid, The Anniversary), and these guys hit the mark.

The boys in the last place you look aren’t afraid to branch out into seriously non-“rock” stuff, either. Beyond the Jimmy Eat World-style electronics scattered throughout Light (see “Hopestar,” in particular), there’s the quiet instrumental “Interlude,” and then the band dives headfirst into the solitary piano and voice of “I Know You Think Nobody Cares (But I Do)”. In less-capable hands, the track could easily turn into cheesy, Drama Club posturing, but the pleading, desperate hope in Nava’s voice elevates it to the realm of genuine heartbreak.

Oddly, it’s another one of those “different,” less guitar-heavy (at least at first) tracks that truly pins down the band’s appeal. “Band to Save Me” is a dark-yet-crystalline, Postal Service-ish piece of electro-rock with echoey vocals, synths, and metallic drums, and it captures that yearning feeling of being a kid again, trying to figure out the world and looking for solace in the music of your favorite band, something to make sense of the confused, spiraling-crazily world around you.

By the time the guitars finally crash in and knock the walls down, I feel like I need to dig that old guitar out of the back closet, plug it in, and remember what it used to feel like to pound on the strings and just howl out all the pain. When Nava and Pool sing, “I just need a band to save me / I just need a song of hope and / I wish somebody would amaze me still / and not make me feel like I’m alone,” I want to turn it all around and hand it back to them — with this album, the last place you look has become that band, the one that rips you out of your confusion and makes you feel like things matter, like you matter, like the music matters. the last place you look makes me want to play that music, to burn with that same kind of fire again. And if these guys feel like they’re all alone now, I’m predicting they won’t be for long.

[the last place you look is playing 3/27/09 at Warehouse Live, along with Mothers Anthem, Lockehart, Mechanical Boy, Goodnight Goddess, & Another Run, and also 3/28/09 at the Free Press Houston Westheimer Block Party, along with a ton of bands.]
(self-released; the last place you look -- http://www.myspace.com/thelastplaceyoulook)
BUY ME: CDBaby

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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2 Responses to “the last place you look, See the Light Inside You

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Band to Save Us: the last place you look Won’t Back Down on June 24th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    […] It’s been a busy couple of years for Houston-dwelling post-emo rockers the last place you look. After lurking under the radar a while and releasing debut full-length The Lies We Tell Ourselves to mixed reviews, in 2009 they released a vastly different followup, See the Light Inside You, which blew away quite a few people, this writer included. […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: the last place you look + Venomous Maximus + Omotai + Perma + Sunrise & Ammunition + Two Star Symphony + More on December 20th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    […] band, one of the best post-emo rock bands I’ve ever, ever, ever heard, and their 2009 album, See the Light Inside You, has lived in my car’s CD player (yes, I still have one of those) and/or MP3 player for the […]

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