Spanning the country’s geography north and south, this split from Fargo, ND’s Crab Legs and Fort Worth, TX’s Not Half Bad is a snippet of the varied sounds of the current DIY pop-punk scene and everything that unifies yet separates bands within it. Crab Legs play a coarse shout it out style that’s gruff yet melodic while partners in vinyl Not Half Bad are more of the peppy up-tempo lot.
Crab Legs mixes up the tempo well all while keeping a sore throat shout across the way. Opener “Drunk Chris Hennen” is a fist in the air anthem whereas the next song, also seemingly named after a person (“Pat”) is more of a melodic back and forth rhythm before the final movement with a cathartic and emphatic punch. Crab Legs, as a whole, write songs that build and rage, establishing the rhythm and then letting momentum take over in a supercollider of release/aggression. Take some East Bay melodies, some Tim Version rage, and tendency to let the drums carry the mix ahead of the riffs ‘n’ roars.
When the record flips the tone does as well. Not Half Bad are a little more spread out in song structures, drawn around the melodies instead of dynamics. “Comfortable. Tired.” starts slow with a steady bass drum kick before it literally kicks it up a notch into a riffalicious crescendo of energy. “Van, Forever” kicks off with a nice meandering guitar line that segues into the up-tempo fare better known as pop-punk with a nice “drunk in Wisconsin” lyric to boot. It should be noted that not all the songs feature punctuation—apparently just some of the standouts by pure coincidence.
Not Half Bad convey pop-punk enthusiasm but it’s doused in drunken cynicism with a lot of group-shout vocals that cue up in place of harmonies, bringing the grit whenever it starts to sound a little too happy in tone. Lyrically, though, that positivity feels nil, as this is some downer stuff buried in bouncy music to sing and sweat along to. Where it should get sweet and poppy is where the frustration surfaces: keen toned but with teeth flashing. There’s even some acoustic punk in “Armchair Anarchism” and “You’re Alright. You Know That, Kid.” which has a tongue in cheek snide tone that’s both proper punk rawk snotty but also singsong.
The Crab Legs-Not Half Bad split is surprising in the contrasting styles of the bands and when they choose to bare their teeth, but it also reflects the undercurrents of the scene with a strong interwoven focus on good, catchy singalongs and blowing in the wind attitudes. They make a cute couple.
8.0 / 10
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