Tourmaline Strange Distress Calls

This New Jersey-based quintet exist at the junction of indie and emo, where the paths of self-expression and self-absorption diverge. Virtually every track offered here sounds like it could explode into either a monsoon of fuck-everything guitar abuse or a bawling, string-backed hissy fit at a moment’s notice — indeed, "Mary Wanna Marry Me?” almost does both. Singer/guitarist Max Rauch — whose voice sounds like an eerily Americanised version of Millencolin’s Nikola Sarcevic — resists the overwhelming temptation to end each verse with a traditional emo-rific shriek/growl, scoring his band massive indie cred in the process. Aside from a few sharp moments, the band’s attack is pretty vanilla, with piano flickers, handclaps and Rauch’s gulping, winsome yelp frequently drowning out the chugging guitars. And while the band’s maddening habit of nibbling where they should really chomp down hard keeps most of their songs from hitting their peaks, they shine brightly when they get it right: "Autumn,” a big-ambitioned sad-sack rocker jammed with twinkling synths and Rauch’s impassioned wail, is made-to-measure for rainy nights spent walking through the rain with your iPod blaring, while closer "April O’Neil” is the prize at the bottom of the box, a snapping, crackling, popping nugget of candy-coated pop-punk sunshine. (No Milk)