Who: Shawn Steven (vocals, guitar), Jesse Tranfo (drums), Matt Thomson (vocals, bass), Jeff Massingil (guitar).
Sounds Like: The halcyon days of indie rock.
For Fans Of: Braid, Jets to Brazil, Slint.
The guys in the Hague will hate being boxed in like this, but they're probably the best emo band in town.
"We've struggled to find a niche," says drummer Jesse Tranfo. "We've had record labels be like, 'This record sounds cool, but you guys have like four different styles on it.' But that's what we do. It always seemed more cohesive to me."
The band's eclectic sound is partially the result of the many lineup changes they've gone through since forming in the suburbs of Idaho eight years ago. Starting off as a mostly pop act, Tranfo and guitarist Shawn Stevens were reluctant to settle on a particular "sound" or aesthetic.
The Hague is a band from Portland, Oregon. from Shawn Steven on Vimeo.
"I was in a post-rock band a few years ago," Tranfo says. "They gave me so much shit for liking bands like Alkaline Trio or any sort of pop-punk I was into. They were such pretentious snobs. I was definitely wanting to just play some simple stuff."
As the primary songwriter, Stevens always maintained a liberal, laissez-faire policy of what the other members could do with the ideas he brought to the group, eschewing the perfectionism and rigid standards so prevalent in other bands that are run like dictatorships.
"I honestly resent that trope," he says. "A band is like a dream. Everyone is invested equally because there's nothing to gain financially. Seems so unfair to have someone in a band who can't express themselves."
The Hague's new single is the first recorded music to feature the current lineup, despite having been together the last four years. A-side "Globes" is a bitingly complex array of angular, math-rock guitars reminiscent of late '90s singles from labels like DeSoto and the Self-Starter Foundation, showcasing an earnestness delivered in aggressive but ingratiating tones through pop choruses that serve as an emotional release valve.
The song walks a tightrope between the huge and heavy and shamelessly sincere, much like the classic emo acts of 20 years ago—a time before the genre tag was a dirty pejorative evoking red-and-black eyeliner and purple-haired Hot Topic shoppers. Luckily, the guys in the Hague agree.
"Totally good with that comparison," Tranfo says.
SEE IT: The Hague play the Know, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd., with Ice Queens and Rare Monk, on Thursday, Nov. 9. 8 pm. $6. 21+.