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Cursive / Eastern Youth

8 Teeth to Eat You

Better Looking / Five One

This had to be a good one. A split between two of the finest in latter-day emocore caught in their prime over the course of four tracks each. Omaha's Cursive and Tokyo-based Eastern Youth have both been at it for quite some time now -- Eastern Youth since the late 1980s -- and both are considered to be among the finest exponents of the more complex, punky side of emo.

Cursive is on first, and offer up four of the best and most fully realized tracks of their entire career. Tim Kasher is among the finest lyricists of recent times -- any genre -- and his clinically descriptive portrayals of the complexities of everyday life are always beautiful and disturbing, moving and spot-on. Here, the tragic tale of "May Flowers" is a standout, if too unsettling for comfort, while the anxieties rendered in "Am I Not Yours?" make for another impressive effort. The music, as always, is complex and intricate but with a presence and a heart that pull you in and surround you.

Eastern Youth have a tough time following Cursive, but if anyone can do it, they are a top bet. Their lyrics are sung in Japanese and, for someone unfamiliar with the language, it is hard to be as immediately engaged by them as with Kasher's. But English translations of the lyrics are available from the good ole 'Net, and it's well worth the effort to look them up. Musically, Eastern Youth are punkier in approach than Cursive, but they have a refined and unique sound that makes any lazy categorization impossible. With simple melodic lines based around traditional Japanese sounds on top of a forceful, biting attack, Eastern Youth stand tall and proud on this album, and this is well worth checking out along with their many other releases.

Better Looking Records: http://www.betterlookingrecords.com