- The Hokkaido Concern
- Circuits Flooded
Math rock is basically set for life. So many standards have been set since its heyday a few years ago that anyone and his highly talented guitar-playing brother can combine some of them and come up with something that's more or less new. The Hokkaido Concern out of Delaware rework the standards into the Circuits Flooded EP, a surprisingly compelling nineteen minutes of instrumentally accomplished mathy punk-rawk.
The Hokkaido Concern bill themselves as "mostly instrumental", which is accurate - the band is most often the archetypal guitar, guitar, bass, drums instrumental rock quartet, but interjected are vocals that are most often superfluous and detract from the Concern's otherwise skillfully played and tightly synched instrumentals.
The first track, "Marvin", opens strongly, but features the worst vocals of the bunch. It resembles the tracks on recent Hella EPs, where past songs (excellent without vocals) have lyrics added to them, and the lesson learned in both cases is that vocals just don't really work with math rock. "Marvin" fades seamlessly into "Maria", another vocal song, but this time with impassioned screaming that, however unnecessary, does fit its surroundings a little better, and adds Drive Like Jehu to their namedrop list.
"Axl Royz" is the highlight of the EP - too short, but all instrumental, and the primest example of the Hokkaido Concern's potential for world domination through insanely catchy math rock stylez. Here, Caballero's For Respectish rocknroll meets Volta Do Mar's playful jazziness, and they combine into the soundtrack to a video game that would surely destroy the world with excellence.
"David Cassidy" is another combination of solid guitar and drum work and uninspired lyrics. "Fugue in Lee Minor" ends the EP sounding like a subdued Lightning Bolt, and the lyrics here are delivered more believably and aren't as glaringly out of place.
But what makes it worth it? What sets it apart? It depends on how avid a fan of math rock you are. Those familiar with the classics may find nothing new in Circuits Flooded, but even so, there's no reason not to like The Hokkaido Concern, or at least recognize their great potential. Derivative or otherwise, the guys are talented musicians and they write enjoyable songs. Ditch/work on the vocals, fellas, and you've got new classics of math rock in the making.
- Noah Jackson
- Axl Royz
- David Cassidy
- Fugue in Lee Minor