Emo-pop band System and Station returns this month with “Here is Now,” a solid collection of songs on Latest Flame Records that connects the dots between the mid-nineties underground emo and today’s indie-pop, with heartfelt, nostalgic results. The guitars angle in and out of one another as RFK Heise alternates his jangly voice between smooth melody and all-out shouting. As always, Heise’s lyrics take center stage and express strong-rooted doubt, like when he delivers the poignant repeat in “When You’re the Witness,” crooning “We’re waiting for trust to fill us all.” The band switches the distortion pedals on and off with effective precision—the clean parts are just as powerful as the heavy doses of fuzz and pounding drums. “Here is Now”’s biggest strength is its cohesiveness, as one song effortlessly follows another with blinding clarity, even though the band uses many different instruments, structures and sounds throughout. A nice surprise, to be sure. (Tom Lynch)
September 21 at The Note.