Every Record I Own - Day 275: Criteria When We Break
You don’t always get to choose the bands you tour with. We’ve been invited to open for bigger bands, and sometimes there will be some other band on the bill, and they’re nice enough folks but their music isn’t memorable. I’ve come home from tours unable to hum a bar of music or recite a line of lyrics from bands we’ve heard nightly for six weeks straight.
Or conversely, you tour with a band and you love their music but after six weeks of hearing their music every night you have little desire to throw their record on. That happens a lot too.
Criteria is not one of those bands.
These Arms Are Snakes were invited to tour with Minus the Bear back in 2005 and Criteria opened the shows. I wasn’t familiar with their band, but they were nice dudes and I remember being impressed by their first few shows. They were tight, had great guitar tones, big chunky anthemic riffs, and solid songwriting. Even though they were part of the Omaha / Saddle Creek scene, they felt less connected to Midwest emo and more into the melodic big-riff rock of stuff like Hum, Shiner, or Jawbox, but with a poppier edge. By the end of the tour, their songs were lodged in my skull.
Russian Circles toured with them shortly afterwards, and even though I wasn’t in the band yet, my future bandmates were equally smitten by their music. Thirteen years later When We Break still gets thrown on the van stereo on every tour.
For some reason Criteria never caught on with wider populace, and it’s a fuckin’ shame because this record is one of the rare pop-rock records of the new century that I unabashedly love.