Even on the Worst Nights beams with positivity. Sure, a closer listen will reveal a lot of sarcasm in the sugar-pop sound, but the first impression is one of balloons and puppy dogs, not shaking one’s fists in anger or letting loose a crippling, agonizing scream. The Cincinnati, OH band is clean and crisp, with singalongs, brevity, and self-awareness as their driving forces. In many ways, the band is almost too clean, but it’s funny what a difference a group chorus can make in pop-punk—giving off more of a “we’re all in this together” vibe than the awkward veneer that comes with crisp pop.
It’s really those group choruses and the fun, personal feel of the record that earns Mixtapes’ their points here. There are definitely things to this record that normally don’t appeal but the general feel is honest, fun, and easy to relate with—all of which are import elements. The band, in their male-female vocal tradeoffs keep a high energy, short-song effect going for sixteen songs that range from just 53 seconds to a touch over four minutes. They even mix in a little acoustic instrumentation and a guest vocal without interrupting that peppy feel. It’s driven largely by the don’t-stop-to-breath singalongs and caffeinated feeling that permeates this record. Of the two singers, Maura Weaver stands out as the more polished, slowing it down and speeding it up effectively but all while expressing a range of emotions from fun to sass to anger. As she trades verses and songs with Ryan Rockwell, there’s a definite bond that can be felt and it’s just a friendly record, if that can come across on the page and make any sense. Rockwell is my least favorite of the two, as he two often touches on that snotty Blink 182 tone too much. It wasn’t my favorite in 1998 and it isn’t now. He’s got a rougher edge to his tone, but it never really drops that snot entirely and it comes across best in songs like “Just When You Thought It Was Over” where it tempers it a little.
Lyrically, it’s a record about punks: hanging out together, being friends, being cramped in a van, and not understanding the mainstream way of life. That’s definitely a quick summary, but the themes are universal. They’re direct and don’t take themselves too seriously, and something in of the style can, at times, be so honest that they get a bit clunky and less rhythmic—and that works as a positive, giving just enough heart and imperfection to contrast with the more formulaic music playing behind the words. When that awkward syllable, as in “Anyways,” drops, it’s doubly effective because it stands out.
Even on the Worst Nights is a pleasant surprise that I picked up mostly because I caught ten minutes of the band at Fest. While it’s definitely sunnier than my standard fare, the band is clearly having fun and, while the lyrics are opinionated, they’re generally agreeable. It’s toe-tapping and non-stop.
Posted June 1, 2015, 1:40 p.m.
Ohio's Mixtapes, currently on hiatus, are offering the free rarities compilation These Are Us for free download via Paper + Plastik. "I was at Eric's house the other day ...
Posted Oct. 22, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Mixtapes have announced that following their performance at Fest 13 the Ohio band will take a hiatus. In their issued statement, they said: After Fest this fall, Mixtapes is gonna ...
Posted Feb. 6, 2014, 8:05 p.m.
Animal Style Records is releasing a digital label sampler of their bands covering Descendents, Weezer, Bigwig, and The Get Up Kids. The sampler is selling for $4 with all proceeds ...
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