Bands and record labels avoid the term "emo" like the plague. For whatever reason, it makes people's skin crawl. Like it or not though, Brantford, Ontario's The Vermicious Knid is going to be labeled an emo band. But these four guys are much more complex, delivering an intricate and masterful barrage from a multitude of underground influences. They reference Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth as influences, as well as the pop elements of Weezer and Sebadoh. The sonic power and the pop sensibilities of these staple alternative rock influences are only slightly apparent in the music of The Vermicious Knid. There's a more modern and jagged angle from the math rock and post-hardcore underground that really stands out. With their 2002 CDEP, Days That Stand Still, The Vermicious Knid lulls the listener with lush acoustic guitars for about thirty seconds, then suddenly launches a screaming hardcore assault as their time signature cuts and lurches, then just as suddenly introduces a jangly guitar playing a hard-to-forget pop melody. It's these sudden changes in mood and texture that give this great new band their great new sound.
Named after the terrible, horrible beasts that eat up all the Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, these four young Ontarians are the missing link between the dissonance-ravaged fury of Fugazi and the heart-on-the-sleeve forthrightness of countrymen the Weakerthans. Days that Stand Still is an itchy, guitar-slinging bug bite of an album, crammed to the gills with dive-bombing guitars, teeth-chattering rhythms and flytrap melodies cleverly embedded within feverish guitar rave-ups. At its core, the Vermicious Knid is a pop group, albeit one trapped in the shell of a rambunctious indie rock outfit; opener "Every Bears Life Guide" will have you shimmying about with its hush-to-howl dynamic thrusts and hooky two-note guitar break, while the mid-tempo charmer "Finally Seventeen Hands" recalls the cheerful affectations of Jade Tree-era Promise Ring. While the big bright lights of stardom aren't quite calling their name just yet, Days that Stand Still is, nonetheless, a promising start for the band -- these Knids, it seems, are a whole lot more than all right.
-- Jason Jackowiak