The first encounter I had with Open Letters was in early 2013, prior to their first release, "1-6" (later released in April of that year), when they opened for Dads in Vancouver at a local venue called 333. I stood on the side of the crowded mechanic garage turned venue, as I watched in awe, the chaos that ensued as soon as the band hit the first note. Pile ups, crowd surfing, and stage diving occurred during their entire set. The energy in the room subsided and did not reach that level during the headliner's set. This made it's occurrence in the first place become more electrifying, as a local band was able to not only exceed expectations, but was able to blown them all away and set their own standards.
"10-23" is Open Letter's first full-length, and continues the bands unrelenting search for peace of mind, as well as the ability to cope with life's ever changing frame. The record begins with bassist, Kyle Shields, yelling out "This pain is unconditional". It sets the precedent for the occurring theme throughout the record of self-reflection and awareness. Guitarist Reuben Houweling's vocals in "Literal Human Garbage//The Virtues Of Disbelief" are reminiscent of Chris Connelly in the "Through Being Cool" era, and his back and forth exchange of "Hallelujah, I have faith in nothing everlasting." Shield's encapsulates the weight of an existential crisis.
The record then goes on to shed light on the dissonance that anxiety and emotional displacement have with every day life. From never feeling comfortable ("Dear Friends") to seeing friends become shadows of their former selfs ("Drugs Will Tear Us Apart"), Houweling presents both through a newly sober perspective. There is no doubt that his first full year spent sober prior to recording the full-length had an impact on both his writing and his life.
This record confronts the trials and tribulations of coming to a crossroads in recognizing bad habits within yourself, as well as those around you.The contrast between Houweling's high-pitched vocals and Shield's unrelenting lower octave yell further resonate the push and pull between those two paths."10-23" is a record for those who seek so much more than just to exist. It is a record determined to live.