Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Highway Cross "Run Dry" EP on Toxic Pop Records

I like a label like Toxic Pop that can release something as minimal and dark as Industrial Park (which made it on my best of 2013 list) right after releasing this hardcore power pop single from Highway Cross. They know what they like.
In the same way that Drive like Jehu begat Hot Snakes, Cloak/Dagger begat Highway Cross and the similarity in precise thick punk isn't an accidental comparison either. This is as serious as that bad ass music that makes you rock THAT hard, even in your own livingroom on a Sunday morning...and forgot that every time Suicide Invoice starts that volume creeps up and the neighbors start pounding on the wall again.

A-Side's "Ringing In My Ears" opens with squealing feedback (it's like they've already been abusing the poor thing and walked in on the Gimp in Pulp Fiction) they're bashing out a regular time that picks up into that Rick Froberg and John Reis gold standard sound. But the teamwork from guitar and vocals of Matthew and Ben is their secret weapon here when screaming vocals and weaving massive chords right into each other. It's twice the power that should be at work here and will have you digging out those Hot Snakes records as soon as you get exhausted of these four on this EP. "Highway Cross" also has a lot pf the frantic off kilter quality of At The Drive In, the way these two seem to be just behind the instrumentation, while they're driving right out in front they're just barely keeping up at the same time threatening to topple over into hyper fuzz. They don't have time for another bands bashing end to songs, they're too precsise for that upsetting looseness. This is just rigid as hell - the pieces are tight and crafted with those ornate details with huge production and perfection. They have the chops and give this sound a jump start if it ever really went away. Something that maybe even spans that gap between the Obits and Hot Snakes, nestling right between those two mammoths.

B-Side's "Old Friends" opens with a great back and forth of high hat and big change chord melodies against a straight tom pounding and windmill strum that should go on forever taking full advantage of both guitars with that crunchy gated distortion. Working up every harmony, they balance out the lower end and spastic jabbing breaking strings every practice. Vocally they match this energy laying everything out with hardcore style taking it very seriously in the process. "Run Dry" takes a bendy single note channeled guitar note and burns a hole into the speaker cones. It's working that slow down approach only to barrel right back in, with that fake pause to only break necks faster. You'd want to be a little prepared for their live show, it could get fast and physical nearly every track, whipping the audience into a faster frenzy then those guys delivering the groceries at 138 beats per minute.

Get it from Toxic Pop Records

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