Now & Then: The Anniversary and Dri

Years ago I opted out of doing the 1h20m drive into Chicago to catch a Kansas band, The Anniversary, a missed opportunity to this day. Signed to Vagrant Records since 1999, prior to Vagrant’s burst of activity-which continues to this day, The Anniversary blended indie pop and early emo with 1970s flower children. It’s carefree energy mixed with the light, soft vocal triad of Josh Berwanger, Justin Roelefs, and Adrianne Verhoeven creates the best album, Designing A Nervous Breakdown (AMG), to accompany that feeling when summer just clicks into place. The synthed keyboards heralded throughout the album, setting it far apart from label mates Saves The Day‘s more punk-twinged ruckus. The D In Detroit is one example of this collage as light and colorful as Alexander Calder could’ve pieced together.

A split with Superdrag came about the following year, focusing more on acoustic guitars than their debut and serving as the midpoint between Designing and their second album, Your Majesty (Vagrant Records, 2002). They tantalized and confused listeners, releasing Sweet Marie as the first mp3 via Vagrant’s website. (Note: Since the Vagrant redesign years ago, The Anniversary media is debilitatingly lacking.) The song indicated a creative progression, a maturation of sounds, leading away from the emo indie pop and towards a deeper, introspective sound featuring atmospheric digressions and ethereal vocals. Adrianne’s voice unwavers throughout, particularly on Husam Husam, as its scaffolded by the music before she’s joined by the others. The Death of the King, a six minute mini-opus melting into Follow the Sun, swaggers into the ears with heavy beats contrasted by the shared voices. Nearly halfway in an synth pop keyboard produces an interlude, injecting Designing into Your Majesty, before an otherworldly air drifts in, sweeping into the album closer.

Their second leaped the infamous sophomoric slump, but the band broke up in 2004 due to creative differences. Personally, it was the most unexpected, disappointing break-up aside from Bear Vs. Shark‘s left-field announcement. Your Majesty garnered respectable reviews from Alternative Press, AMG (4.5/5), and Rolling Stone. Pitchfork dismissed the album-but the author wrote epically about his struggles with an upset stomach 5 times during the review, so I’ll leave you to be the judge.

The band remained silent until New Year’s Day 2008, unveiling vague plans including a DVD, an album, and hints at touring (which I won’t miss this time). Tuesday the said album came out, Devil On Our Side: B-Sides & Rarities, a 26-track recueil of splits, 7″ tracks, and unreleased material (it lacks Anais and Up In The Sky off the Superdrag split).

In the meanwhile, various projects have turned up. Josh currently is in The Only Children, releasing Keeper of Youth in 2007, which lies is a country-tinged version of the Architects. Justin recorded his eclectic album under the moniker, White Flight, by far the greatest psychedelic departure the members experienced. Adrianne worked briefly with said Architects before emerging with a synth/electronic indie pop album as D*R*I* (or Dri) entitled Smoke Rings (Range Life Records, 2007). She will be accompanying Conor Oberst for the West Coast dates of his upcoming tour.

iTunes: The Anniversary
MySpace: The Anniversary
iTunes Plus: The Only Children
iTunes: White Flight
iTunes Plus: Dri

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