GARRISON – by jeff skruck
In their five years of existence, Garrison went from an “eh, they’re okay for a Revelation band” to a pop-punk quartet with a deft sense of melody, a tight rhythm section and a D.C.-influenced sound. The latter thanks in part to producer J. Robbins who can usually turn just about every band he works with into gold. At least he did so with Garrison’s strongest release, the full-length “Be a Criminal.” Loosely speaking, this is a concept album with each song title acting as step-by-step advice for pulling off any caper (“Recognize an Opportunity,” “Know the Locale,” “Dump the Body,” “Cover the Tracks with Cash” among others). Each song is an exploration of the psyche behind the crimes that people intentionally – or unintentionally – commit. Garrison take their hardcore roots and add a healthy dose of meaty guitar rock with a slight angular post-hardcore approach akin to Robbins’ own legendary bands Burning Airlines and Jawbox. The result is their most challenging and satisfying work yet that bristles with energy, pop smarts and intelligent observations. This past year Garrison released two EPs meant to complement each other, “The Model” and “The Silhouette.” The former screams with the same urgency and guitars – dare I say emo-intensity – of Texas Is The Reason circa their first EP on Revelation in 1995. Formed in 1998 in Boston, Garrison are: Joe Grillo, vocals/guitar; Ed McNamara, guitar/vocals; Ethan Dussault, bass; and John LeDoux, drums. “The Silhouette” released last fall finds the band striving for new directions to take their music. Unfortunately not all are successful such as the sonic crapscape of “The Closer.” Get past that – or skip it all together – and concentrate on the first three songs. “Come On Die Young (No Seriously), rips and bites at your ankles like rodents on crank. It is Garrison’s Kick-Out-The-Jams moment. That is to say, it’s raw, intense, ripping fast, and quite ugly compared to their prettier, more hook-filled tuneful stuff. “God Is Not On Our Side” is straight-ahead rock riffage, big Bonhamesque drums, with a hint of Seventies-arena-rock envy from a group of kids who grew up loving slow-grooving hardcore heroes like Quicksand. Listening to Garrison, it’s fun to play spot the influence. Of course the game would get tired real quick if it weren’t fun to listen to them. They’re one of the few post-hardcore, emo-friendly, powerpoppy groups that seem to add an interesting dimension to music that’s been redundant and stale for way too long.