Where’s Axl?

If you’ve caught some shows on the Pickle Patch/Biko co-op show circuit, you probably know the answer. The Icarus Line isn’t the name for Axl’s new band, but it might as well be. The Icarus Line has gone from typical basement chaotic hardcore to a hybrid of screamo dissonance and, yes, G’n’R-style hard-rocking antics.

Mono moves the band from the miniscule Buddyhead label into the arms of the high-profile Santa Monica emo imprint Crank! and there is a marked improvement in the recording quality. The formerly weedy guitars have become full and brutal, and engineer Mark Trombino knows how to record a rhythm section – the low-end kicks you in the gut like only the best hard rock can.

This album is as much informed by hard rock as it is by the newly trite screamo movement. Although there is an obligatory nod to song-structure complexity, the music on Mono is kept for the most part short and accessible, without being poppy. Other bands, like At the Drive-In, have already hit it big, and Mono is even more accessible than At the Drive-In’s Relationship of Command, never mind the similar vocal styling. Although “In Lieu” and “SPMC” are self-indulgent and excessive, there are still 10 tracks of powerful rock used wisely. I doubt The Icarus Line will break mainstream, but then again, I wouldn’t be wholly surprised.

Not nearly as surprised as I will be if the Guns ‘n’ Roses record takes off.