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En Garde

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Album Review

Originally released in 2003 through Louisville's Initial Records, Saddle Creek reissued En Garde in 2005 after releasing Criteria's second effort, When We Break. Anyone who loved the allusions to D.C. hardcore in that album's "Self Help" and "Prevent the World" will love En Garde all the way through. It's loud, with Stephen Pedersen's meaty guitar chords throttling off his opaque, opining lyrics at odd angles and the rhythm section pounding along ably, particularly on "Life" and "Coincidence." There's more than a little 1990s indie rock in Criteria, too, the arch melodies of bands like Silkworm and Seaweed surfacing in "Me on Your Front Porch" and "Play on Words." But Criteria never lose their jones for big guitar moments on En Garde, which is why "Thorn Sharp" rewards like vintage Weezer. Even the album-closing "Rescue Rescue," with its electronic percussion and droll, dead romantic vocals, finds a churning guitar festering underneath a preening keyboard melody.


Formed: 2003 in Omaha, NE

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Criteria's Stephen Pedersen started out in Cursive, way back when Saddle Creek Records was still Omaha's little local secret. He eventually departed that group, moving to Durham, NC, to study law at Duke. But he couldn't stop rocking, and formed White Octave while in school. In 2001 Pedersen returned to Omaha, and wrote a batch of songs. They became the En Garde album, which he recruited local pals to help him perform live. By 2005's When We Break, issued through Saddle Creek, Criteria's full-time...
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En Garde, Criteria
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