You don’t necessarily have to buy the Rites of Spring album to hear what emo rock sounded like before its big post-millennial MTV makeover. This is what bands like One Small Step for Landmines are for. All of the catchy minor-key chord changes are in place, and the overly robust lyrics are a go, but One Small Step for Landmines are not a group to succumb to cabaret fantasies or “guyliner” (shudder). Instead, the Florida trio (vocalist Kevin Allen, drummer August Hansen & bassist Steve Leacock) seem to be content with rocking your dorm room, as poppy numbers like “Good Men Die Young and I’m Not Feeling Well” and the excellent “What I’m Down For” (what a guitar solo!) remind you what alt-radio sounded like before it was packaged in Buzz Ballads-styled compilations. The group’s sound is very tight indeed, but rarely do they break outside of it. The few times they tread into new sonic territory (the acoustic ballad “Don’t Go to Hell” and “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right”) they succeed majestically. Overall, the group’s eponymous effort isn’t the kind of disc you’ll write home about, but it’s still a giddy, fun pleasure that wins you over pretty easily. Recommended for genuine rock nostalgia hunters and people looking for a damn good time.
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