It's difficult to toss a headful of artfully mussed hair nowadays without hitting a band passing off generic broken-heart metaphors and sing-song shrieks as art. Thanks to its visceral ragers, which explored desire and regret from every angle, the SoCal screamo quintet A Static Lullaby became one of the first post-hardcore wavemakers to surpass its oh-so-tortured peers with the release of 2003's breakneck And Don't Forget to Breathe. But even more difficult than breaking big is to maintain relevance after being dropped by your major-label backers (Columbia Records) and replacing three out of five original members.
Seattle's the Classic Crime, meanwhile, picks up where all those mold-breaking bands from the Pacific Northwest left off in the late '90s: producing churning, progressive-leaning rock that aims to shake up both the music industry and the mind. The quintet's May full-length, Albatross, was the highest-selling debut in label Tooth and Nail's history, featuring wistful, alt-radio-ready anthems about love and overcoming obstacles.