As Friends Rust - Eleven Songs
Release Date: November 5, 2001
Record Label: Doghouse/Golf Records
If the screamo/emo-punk genre was under prosecution 12 years ago as much as it's been today, I might have missed out on enjoying a multitude of bands still in their prime. Gainesville's As Friends Rust seemed to inexplicably fall into the once highly adored sub genre, and in the process of their growth they didn't care to blend in too much because having fun was their ultimate goal. Overt influences of their hardcore contemporaries were skipped, but still slightly retained, given the fact that frontman Damien Moyal had prior roles in Florida hardcore acts such as Morning Again and the then newly born Shai Hulud. When the band hit the scene from 1996 to 2002, they came, they screamed, and they conquered--- except in their native land of North America. It was as if they were a foreign band adapting their songs in English, influenced by their country's traditional sounds, only to wither away unnoticed. The lack of major reception in the U.S. was the deciding factor for their departure from Good Life Recordings and subsequent signing to Doghouse Records, who re-released all of their previous material for American audiences.
Nothing is more refreshing than to meet those who come across as genuine at first impression, rather than people who try way too hard to impress. And that's where Eleven Songs comes in (the only known compilation of the band's previous work, featuring their best songs). No intricacies are found here. No complex time signatures, no hard to figure out guitar chords, and easy to comprehend lyrics. Even the production is bland to the palette. It's no Rubik's cube that we'll get stuck on solving for days nor do we have to find the Crystal Skull of Akator. The only complexity is figuring out how the band was able to produce such a simple album and make it so catchy, memorable, and wise.
When a song is entitled "The First Song on the Tape You Make Her", explanations are hardly needed, but since it's the best one on the record, an explanation would be fitting. Moyal makes us feel as if we're going through a process together; riding our bikes to the store, buying (or liberating) a blank tape, stuffing the two bottom holes with bits of rolled up paper or lining it with scotch tape, giddily picking out each song strategically for this special someone, and somehow already knowing what the first track should be. As the end of the first verse beats with a heavy heart, the peak of intensity from the bass line and collective vocals is reached, accompanied with a dramatic lead guitar. "You look like love" is repeated again and again. Perhaps words such as these are considered cliche and forgettable, but if this is the case, then I want to be a part of the cliche fervor and passion that come with them. Although their band name doesn't allude to anything in particular, they found a way to address friendship. "Half Friend Town" speaks of being confined in the band's hometown, where getting criticized or cut off isn't uncommon if one makes changes uncharacteristic of 'the scene'.
Part of As Friends Rust's difficulty in being caught on to was partly due to how they were always categorized as the "other", and never seemed to fit into a genre. This was even more apparent in comparison to their tour partners who stemmed from an easily definable hardcore scene. Some classified the band as space rock, or alternative rock, emo, and even flat out hardcore--- and I too labeled the music as how it portrayed itself to me. At the same time, maybe this was their mixed charm. Their other issue was always promotional, and they never seemed to get off the ground the way other bands around them did.
Eleven Songs sums up the band's six year lifespan of friendship, fun, and overall genuine attitude accurately, but at the same time, listening to this release only doesn't do the band the justice they couldn't receive. It's quite a task to connect new audiences to bands which had only a small following, and to get good conversations rolling on them. Therefore, I'll let indie/screamo/emo/alterna- rock/melodic hardcore punk Eleven Songs do the talking for me.