Somewhere—on their way through The Hills, The O.C., and that mythical Southern California mall where a certain genre of emo flourishes in a Hot Topic-spurned frenzy of unfortunate-haired teenagers—Weatherbox got really lost. On paper, this band seemed destined to claim their rightful home on the dorm room walls—and MySpace Top Eights—of an entire generation of kids, given their hometown (suburban San Diego), pedigree (ex-My American Heart), record label (Doghouse, former home to the Get Up Kids and the All-American Rejects), and famous pals (Saves the Day).

Instead, the Weatherbox quartet surprised us all by dropping a fantastic debut record, American Art, last spring, and dropping out of that scene completely. Ambitious as debut albums come, American Art gloriously wheezes with the dying breath of emo, while desperately establishing a firm foothold in the world of blistering post-rock, and—possibly unintentionally—art-punk as well. All of this glowing praise seems lost on lead singer Brian Warren, who is modest when it comes to talking about the coming-out party that is American Art.

"I just decided I wanted to finally delve into songwriting." He continues, "I wanted to work on the craft of writing songs, developing verses and choruses."

Unlike most bottom-feeders in the emo world, Weatherbox ignore the scene's emphasis on fashion, despite touring alongside mall-pop rockers Cartel (from the Dr. Pepper-funded Band in a Bubble reality show). Weatherbox has maintained their dignity via a keen understanding of music's evolution (their band name is courtesy of a Mission of Burma song, which, when you think about it, is downright revolutionary when you place them on tour alongside a TRL-approved act like Cartel) and an immense onstage presence.

And while American Art is a mammoth rock record, it does seem like Weatherbox's best work is yet to come. The band is criminally young, and the songwriting of Warren will continue to evolve as time goes by, which signals a bountiful landscape of inventive future recordings awaiting the band. Warren adds, "I have some epic plans for our new record. There is a theme to it, and all the songs connect together."

Oh no. Connecting songs? Themes? Well, if anyone can gamble with the dreaded concept record, it's a band that just torched an entire genre of music with graceful ease. Good luck boys—just steer clear of the prog-influenced concept album, and don't you dare make it a double album.

Weatherbox perform Thursday, February 7, at Satyricon (125 NW 6th).