Sweet Weaponry (Doghouse)
Earnest emocore tries to be as big a boys' club as possible, though the Austinites in Cruiserweight do their best to change that. On Sweet Weaponry, the band's third release, they shed some of their pop aesthetics for a fuller, thicker punk sound. At times, songs like "Phantom Rider" or "Goodbye Daily Sadness" could easily be mistaken for Top 40 hits by the likes of Dashboard Confessional or Coheed and Cambria. But no, it's Stella Maxwell, the elfin lead singer packing a ton of combustible pop in her catchy vocals. Sweet Weaponry rotates between New Found Glory pop and Jimmy Eat World emo, with a patent all Stella's. Call it "femocore." It's most evident in titles and structures like those on "At the End of the Tunnel There Is Always a Shining Light" and acoustic strummer "Have You Had One of Those Days." Maxwell and her talented crew of brothers and other men mature to a level most local three-chord outfits never aspire to. While some of the tracks, like "Passible" or "Vermont," can't shake the late-Nineties Blink-182 influence, there's still time to grow. Cruiserweight has outlasted many of their peers, and probably will continue to do so if triumphant songs like "Operation Eyes Closed" keep coming. Until then, count on them to keep the boys' club guessing.