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“My brother’s really into Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. And he works on cars a lot, and ‘454’ is an engine block size,” explains bassist John Wall about how Kerosene 454 came by its name. Wall, along with his brother, guitarist Jim, drummer Dan Zentek, and vocalist Eric Denno, recently released Kerosene’s second album, Come By to Kill Me. On first listen, the album sounds as if it’s going to chug along in a pro forma post-harDCore manner. But the band skillfully softens its angled compositions with catchy choruses or, when Denno isn’t growling like a pissed-off Grover, melodic verses. Kerosene 454 has a resemblance to Jawbox (whose J. Robbins produced Kill Me), with its crunchy guitars spitting out belligerent riffs and punchy drums fighting for ear time. Yet unlike Jawbox, Kerosene 454 has the intuition to hang on to a particularly resonant chord just a bit longer than its musical brethren.
Citing unnamed problems with the group’s former label, Art Monk Construction, Kerosene 454 opted to release its second album on a new Dischord affiliate. Come By to Kill Me is the third release on Slowdime, run by Dischord’s Amanda MacKaye and the Warmers’ Juan Carrera, and while the CD packaging looks great, you can tell the company’s proofreading procedures aren’t in place yet: In the booklet, “Discord (sic)” is thanked, neither the label nor the band’s address is printed anywhere (a business card with both was later inserted), and the song titles and lyrics are scrawled in such tiny, horrendous handwriting that making them out tests your imagination as much as your interpretive skills.
But despite those problems, Kerosene 454 is very happy to be on a local label it trusts. MacKaye and Carrera “are some of the only straight-up people left, where you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off,” says Wall.
Kerosene 454 plays with Boy’s Life and the Most Secret Method Thursday, March 13, at the Black Cat.