Southern California, when I lived there, was dry. Now, I mean that in two ways: 1) Of course, climate-wise, but 2) there was absolutely no hardcore scene--and the scene that existed was utter horseshit. In fact, one of the other writers here at TB and I went to shows often, realizing all the time that our city and geographic area were bullshit excuses for a music scene. That being said, it's nice to see that Southern California has been resuscitated and is finally waking back up from its artistic coma; the living bands breathing loud enough to be heard over the constant flatline of the city. That's cool shit. And so is HRBRS.
Originally Harbours, they've been playing music for 3 years (if my fact-checking it right) now, and the kids' got heart. While their music isn't any sort of re-invention of hardcore music, their genre and sub- forms around them like a home; it's comfort. Not derogatorily. This is the same, realistic, apathetic comfort in which people like I (growing up on The Carrier) feel at home. The lyrics don't form a vastly unraveling concept or story, and they're surely not meant to please: they're personal stories, vignettes and scenes that never answer the question "why?" but evoke the answers in the listeners themselves. For instance, take Modern Life is War (who, admittedly did write more literarily than most) or Life Long Tragedy. The story isn't inside the album, it's in the small room you're listening to this in. The answers unfold inside your mind like a cheap storyboard while you sit in your Northern LA studio apartment. It's like a pizza box existential crisis.
The only thing the album seems to really be lacking is the one thing that makes it a HRBRS album. Again, not derogatorily. I simply mean that HRBRS is the continuation of bands like The Carrier or Life Long Tragedy; nothing that screams of originality, but a sort of sequel. It's a good sequel, and a sequel that is (for the sake of the illustration) still in theaters, since the others left months (and years) ago. A band being unoriginal is not its downfall or the nail in its coffin (e.g. every powerviolence band, ever), and HRBRS reinforces that with Always Holding On. This is the feel-good, nostalgic subgenre of hardcore that we all grew up with, love to hear, and piss ourselves over when seeing live. And for that, HRBRS demands an applause. Because, ultimately, they're going against the trend (currently, but of course, that's always changing). They're playing the music that they love listening to (and making), and they're really fucking good at it.