We, the Vehicles
Love of Everything
Superior Mold and Die
Suburban Chicago was an emo hotspot long before the rise of Fall Out Boy. In the early '90s, a Wheeling-based band called Cap'n Jazz helped bridge the gap between punky first-wave emo and the high-gloss pop the term now refers to. When Cap'n Jazz broke up in 1995 (after releasing only one full-length), members splintered into a handful of projects that continue to splinter today. In a delicious twist of fate, two of those outfits play at different Twin Cities clubs on the same night this week—proof that emo does indeed have a sense of humor, provided you know where to look.
Maritime is led by ex-Cap'n Jazz guitarist Davey von Bohlen (if his name sounds familiar, it's probably because he fronted the Promise Ring, the most commercially successful outfit from the post-Cap'n Jazz lot). Maritime formed when von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier decided to keep playing together after the Promise Ring abandoned their attempt to become emo's Goo Goo Dolls. In need of a bassist to round out a set of songs they'd written and demoed, von Bohlen and Didier recruited Eric Axelson, formerly of the Dismemberment Plan. On 2004's Glass Floor, Axelson sounded like the hired hand he was, but he seems more integrated into Maritime's melodic post-emo jangle on We, the Vehicles, which is a big improvement, since the dude could probably funk up a James Blunt record. Von Bohlen, too, is growing into his role as wry elder statesman—in "People, the Vehicles" he snickers from the stage at the "boys with directionless hair" and the "languorous girls in undertaker makeup."
There's nothing vital about Maritime's backyard indie pop, but at least it's in tune. The same can't be said for the desultory emo-folk meanderings on Love of Everything's Superior Mold and Die, the latest from multi-instrumentalist Bobby Burg, who also plays alongside ex-Cap'n Jazz frontman Tim Kinsella in Joan of Arc. Burg is handy with an off-kilter drum loop or an intricate guitar figure, yet his sense of songcraft equates to the music a child sings to himself when he should be going to sleep. It's not comforting, though—it's just tiring.