Taking Side A on the Elgin, IL focused 7” are The Brokedowns, who last released Species Bender in 2010. After a slew of splits in their career and a few full-lengths, they’ve really settled into a distinct style. It’s punk with a verse-chorus-verse kind of structure at its core, but one that they take loosely, preferring to eschew the bridge for timely noise jams or, in the case of “Sean, Bless This Mess,” a wanky guitar solo. It’s punk rock but played without the genre expectations that can bog a song down and make it feel comfortably familiar—instead delivering some fine and dandy, energetic and emotional rawk from the scream-shout vocals. Behind all this is a firm sense of melody that’s lies subtly within.
The Brokedowns louder style is countered by pop-punks Vacation Bible School. The real bread and butter to Vacation Bible School is the big, catchy hook delivered with a sing-a-long chorus in the Lookout Records mold. It can get so catchy at times that it endangers getting cutesy. The vocals in “Middle Son(g) do a weird, dropped tone that is a bit goofy to start, then it switches up to their more upbeat style with its “you can come shit on me” lyrics, proving that, despite my earlier abuse of the “cutesy” adjective, the band has some bite with their bark.
For a split with two very different bands, each side’s respective focus on using a strong melody at the heart combined with a serious lyrical focus pulls it together into a cohesive product that doesn’t give any wtf moments when the record gets flipped from one side to another. The two bands have played numerous shows together. It’s about time they shared some wax.
7.5 / 10
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