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Features and Reviews Lost At Sea vs. The Ed Kemper Trio
6/6/2003Jeanette SamynThe Ed Kemper Trio
How to Win a Swordfight
Yawn Records

It seems that a new post punk record is released every week. Recently, they all seem to share a lot of the same math-rock, punk, and no wave influences, but, as in any other genre, not least in genres such as this one where there are a lot of bands with a similar vision, only the bands with something new to offer can be regarded as outstanding. This is why bands such as the Ex Models and Numbers stand out amidst so many Fire Engines-wannabes.

The Ed Kemper Trio's twist to the typical post punk formula might have something to do with where they were raised. Unlike a lot of Northeastern post punk bands that have been playing recently, it seems that no one in the Ed Kemper Trio has listened to a Talking Heads record in his or her life. They seem to have replaced the heavy dosage of David Byrne and co that a lot of Northeastern bands have been taking with extra-heavy servings of Sonic Youth, with a dash of screamo (the more Southern trend mentioned earlier) for good measure.

For most tracks on How to Win a Sword Fight, stop-start guitars pair with off-kilter drums to give the album a very Paper Chase-ish feel (see "And Here's Why" and "Why Death Works"). Songs that sound more nervous and frenetic are surely the strongest on the album, though such a technique is demonstrated very rarely here. "Hard and Black" is the song that utilizes such freneticism best. Here, the vocals sound less like a sixteen year-old boy in a punk band and more like a completely insane yet talented man.

Though it is impossible to guess what direction the band will shift towards in the future, this reviewer surely hopes to see more of their crazy, paranoid side in a move away from predictability and repetition.

-- Jeanette Samyn