Thursday, April 16, 2015
Barons EP on Underground Communique Records
Barons is the all too familiar story of friends who were in countless bands in their collective pasts and didn't mean to start a new band after ending up in Pittsburgh together. Underground Communique posthumusly released a previous project, Voice in the Wire which got everybody in the same place for reunion shows and before you know it, new songs were written, lots of hanging out and their drummer Nick practically forced them to take this new thing, Barons, seriously. A few years later their in deep and Underground Communique collected four tracks of hardcore pop punk on their debut EP.
A-Side's "Wartime Lullaby" scrapes down strings to explode into heavy hitting drums and the tight compressed distortion sounds of the dual guitars from Jon Barker and Mike Rock reminding me immediately of Atombombpocketknife or Braid. The way they let everything go and conjured completely bonkers energy in massive blasts of chunky chords. Like the Promise Ring or Cap'n Jazz they've got a mature hardcore punk that you can't help but get swept up in. Impressive that the four vocalists (What Nick can't sing?) trade off lines and blend into each others energy and tone, they were meant to be together already, that sort of sound or enthusiasm can't be forced.
"Uncommon Ground" has Zack carrying this opening vocal singlehandedly next to the distorted layers of melody before the rest of this thickens up. There's something about this Sunny Day Real Estate sound, the way it's so completely raw and personal that's easy to relate to in those tougher coming of age times. These guys are really giving it everythign in a more than sincere way that has to make even cynical robot audiences feel something dammit, especially this track about losing friends and drifting apart. Makes me want to give them a god damn hug already.
B-Side's "Hitman" opens with an old time radio sample about rich guys dying disgraced and I'm suddenly into these guys applying some of this manic energy in a political way with lyrics about a part of society that doesn't actually do anything. Take it from the band from steel city to be pissed about the one percent. They may be doing themselves a disservice by making it sound so catchy but they trust you'll dig deeper. They give you a history lesson in "Berkman Needed Target Practice (But Had The Right Idea)" about the anarchist Alexander Berkman who tried to assassinate Henry Clay Frick of Carnegie Steel in Pittsburgh in revenge over his ordering to kill striking workers. He managed to shoot him twice and even stab him a few times but failed to finish Frick and inspire the oppressed american people to rise up. Heavy stuff that you can trust these five guys to blow up into catchy power punk that's about more than 'things suck' or 'we broke up'. More inspiring than an 'A' patch on a demin jacket, they make intelligent powerful tracks.
Get it from Underground Communique Records. Black or Pink vinyl.