On record: This is Not Unlike Us, by Sunraiser and Chairea 

The amount of unbridled angst on This is Not Unlike Us is impressive, even in the emo context. The new split album, which features four songs from Missoula's Sunraiser and three by Bozeman's Chairea, mixes prog-rock riffs with the kind of shiny minor-key hooks tailor made for tugging at the heartstrings. It almost feels manipulative, except the lyrics are genuine enough to counter the effect. On "Rogue Leader," which mixes hardcore with something akin to free jazz, singer Alasdair Lyon works himself up in such a sincere way that when he ends with, "My life is passing in a blur. My life is passing in a" it feels a little shocking. "Empathy Games" is particularly well crafted, mostly because it provides some rough edges to give shape to the gauzy, pretty notes.

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Chairea is further to the emo end of the spectrum than Sunraiser. "Texas Forever," for instance, includes synth and the chorus, "Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose," sung without a hint of irony, which should be instantly recognized by all Friday Night Lights fans. I like that Chairea doesn't hold back, though a little more hardcore thorniness could give their desperation some depth.

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