Don’t discount The Break because they have a one-syllable name preceded by “The.” I’ve extended my list of things I like from New Jersey to five: Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Martin Brodeur (the goalie from the New Jersey Devils), Bon Jovi, and The Break.
Not that they’re on the Boss or the Chairman of the Board’s levels, and I doubt they stop pucks like Brodeur. I guess you could call them an emo band, but minus the whiny vocals and juvenile lyrics. Or you could call them a punk band, but one that can play and occasionally write a poetic love song. Of course, the point is not to tell you what category they fit in, but rather, whether I think they’re worth listening to.
The answer, of course, is yes. John Waverka’s grown-up, husky vocals fall into neither emo nor hardcore cliché, and the songs vary in pace and style from the straight hardcore of “The Wolves Are At The Front Door” to the Lucero-ish flavor of “Last Night in Manhattan.” (If you don’t know who Lucero are yet, educate yourself. And no, they didn’t pay for that plug.) Handbook For the Hopeless is packed with astute socio-political commentary, and not just of the “anybody-but-Bush” type. Each song ends with a question or a thought-provoking statement.
Bands like this make me feel better about the state of our culture. We’re not all stupid, dull, apathetic robots listening only to MTV-crap. There is room for new, intelligent commentary.