December 8, 2016


With Enemies like these, who needs friends?

Ireland’s indomitable math players are ending a nine-year stint in the primes of their careers. More importantly, they’ll be suiting up one final time (December 18 at Dublin’s Vicar Street) as co-captains, not rivals. In a September letter announcing that their third full-length, Valuables, would be their last release, indie’s jazziest jocks revealed a locker room in disarray. There were disagreements about strategy. Everybody wanted to coach. The internal competition became fierce, driving a wedge between them even as they thoroughly routed road venues on 2016’s spring tour.

But pain soon gave way to gain. After deciding to retire for good, Enemies huddled their talent and pushed another all-star album across the goal line.


This LP doesn’t feature the high-flying offense of Embark, Embrace or the brute physicality of We’ve Been Talking; rather, Valuables scores early and often by demonstrating pinpoint precision and an elevated efficiency that rarely wastes possessions. Guitarists Lewis Jackson and Eoin Whitfield double cover their distinctive dexterity, diagramming deft dump-offs to move the chains. Lead blocker “itsallwaves” may be the most athletic anthem in Enemies’ annuls and opens gaping holes for additional blitzes of bravado. “Play Fire” and “For Karla” audible to agile pop cuts, completing bassist Mark O’Brien’s conversion into a dual threat. His vibrant vocal passes punctuate the win for a squad usually content to let its amps carry the load.


The game ball, however, goes to third-year recruit Micheál Quinn. Now the market’s best free agent drummer, Quinn maneuvers all over the field with ridiculous rudiment flexibility. He tenaciously tackles demanding drives (“Leaves,” “Phoenix Lights,” “Houran”) but dials back the pressure when defending lulls in the action (“Glow,” “Don’t Go”). Whether roaming the middle or tussling in the trenches, Quinn is subtle nuance on steroids during a standout performance.

Enemies are a team for the ages. Regardless of the marks any future champions set, Valuables is a record that will never be duplicated.

December 1, 2016

Melting pot

A remixed recipe has been added to the indie stew.

Melt is a new selection off the emo entree menu of reputed restaurant Topshelf. The New Jersey foursome roasts racks of reverb revolved around the genre’s organic ingredients, cooking a catchy cuisine peppered with spicy hooks.


Barely a three-course meal (10 songs ingested in 28 minutes), the band’s first album leaves both a sweet aftertaste and an empty stomach. Riffer serves sizzling appetizers – “Rewind,” “Out of Line,” “Rollaway,” the title track – but the leftovers are a bland buffet. Dishes “There You Go”, “C-Town,” “Saber” and “Stroke” go light on flambé and flavor, making them tougher chews.

Though Riffer isn’t soup of the day, Melt has concocted a palatable palette. A little extra seasoning and it will be mouthwatering.