Music News

Land of the El Caminos

Finally, a bridge that spans the sometimes mighty chasm between post-hardcore and more user-friendly rock. On its third full-length release, Chicago-area trio Land of the El Caminos has managed to carve a niche wherein singer/guitarist Dan Fanelli can belt out his raspy, half-howled vocals over tunes that snag themselves like treble hooks in the deep-river sludge of your memory. Unlike some ultra-hard bands that have an almost desperate aversion to actual melodies, LOTEC -- which enlists Fanelli, drummer Ken Wallin and bassist Aaron Cleall -- has a gift for taking pop hooks and subverting them. Under midnight arc lights and mountains of cheap beer cans, the group hammers conventional songwriting sensibilities into edgy, aggressive music that rages but still sings.

Another benefit of this versatility is that the band is comfortable bouncing in and out of the darker depths of aggressive rock, easing off the throttle for some songs that teeter on the verge of radio-friendly, then dive back into bleakness and full-throated wailing. "Greener," for instance, borders on pop, albeit of a darker sort, despite Fanelli's trademark cig-filtered vocals and Wallin's commanding drums. On the other hand, minor-key bellows like "Heaven" are as barren and desolate as any that have ever come from Hot Water Music or Snapcase.

Land of the El Caminos is smart enough to know that producing songs with depth won't tarnish its posture or masculine cred. In fact, since the band has invented its own posture, it really can't be tarnished, can it?

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Kurt Brighton