Los Angeles, California

Honest Sleep by Touché Amoré

I've got a love hate love
With the city I'm in
Los Angeles, California. The epicenter of vanity, the open air church of the cult of celebrity, the city built on good times and designer fashions. Set against this backdrop of glamor and greed, Touché Amoré's epic track from their first full length, ...To the Beat of a Dead Horse, challenges those ideals with honesty and intensity. Touché Amoré formed in 2007 in Los Angeles and have been throwing down screamo-influenced hardcore that engages both the uninitiated and veterans of the scene. The band's DYI aesthetics and reaction against the values of mainstream society put them in sharp contrast to the the dominant culture of L.A. and lends their lyrics a complexity and intricacy of meaning that makes even their briefest songs rich emotional explorations. To pin down a particular subject in "Honest Sleep" is difficult: it's a song about life and the struggle to live it, while sinking into increasing sadness and anger. The song hinges on the refrain:

I'm losing sleep
I'm losing friends
I've got a love hate love
With the city I'm in


The gritty side of Los Angeles<br>Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/5898469480/" target="_blank">David Poe, Flickr</a> CC 2.0)The gritty side of Los Angeles
Photo: David Poe, Flickr CC 2.0)
Walking the streets of L.A., you can imagine what it must feel like to be surrounded by glitz when your interiors are darkening every day. The city of "Honest Sleep" is not the L.A. that races to mind when one thinks of the United States' second most populated city, but the voice isn't speaking from a penthouse in the Hollywood Hills, either.

"Sun down, sun up," singer Jeremy Bolm screams at the beginning of the track, the song a catalogue of days gone and nights struggled through. "I speak in sarcasm to relate to all the things I appreciate / I lie in rhythm to open doors." Perhaps I can only speak for myself, but the seedy underbelly of glamorous cities attracts me, and there is a dirty, depressed romance in this honest (hence the name - and painfully so) depiction of a city and one person moving through its layers, beginning the process of giving up.

My reputation is the same it's been and I don't care what happens
I read the book so I know the end


And the theme is repeated: I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. Everyone reaches the same end, everyone dies, who cares what happens in between? The feeling of the song moves toward an attitude of indifference and resolve - resolve to self destruct? To make things better? That's for the listener to decide. The song closes with the lines:

If I'm doing fine
There's no point to this


A writer was once asked, "why is there so much poetry and literature about sadness?" and his response was, "it's difficult to write happiness, to even want to when you're out there living it, but to write sadness, the words just come and come." Sadness is art's greatest patron, it moves behind guitar chords and enriches voices, lets each note cry a single tear before fretting its way to the next one, each measure an essay on desire. This is where Touché Amoré succeeds. In an unlikely genre, their music fills a niche for both the sad and the angry, the hopeless and the dreamers - for all the puzzle pieces of a place, from the suburbs to the city. For a quick melodic assault or offbeat catharsis, Touché Amoré's assault on modern life in the big city is a must listen, particularly for those interested in the psychological geography of a place like Los Angeles.

Maggie Grimason
April 9, 2012

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