With each passing year, it seems like more and more Record Store Day releases are, to be blunt, kind of lame. Since its inception, labels have caught on to the fact that people will buy records made in limited quantity regardless of its content or whether there’s any demand for it in the first place, completely missing the point of trying to highlight the format in the first place. This leaves us with far too many RSD exclusives that are made specifically to be bought and re-sold at ridiculous prices rather than emphasizing the music and the way it can be listened to.
Thank goodness for Red Scare Industries.
For RSD 2016, the label released Making a Midwesterner, a split 7-inch between The Brokedowns and Direct Hit!– two bands that perfectly encapsulate the state of modern pop punk from the American Midwest. (Okay, so Red Scare is (probably) not the only label, punk or otherwise, that put out proper RSD releases this year. Shut up.)
The split begins with two new tracks and a cover of Toys That Kill’s “Runnin’ the Front” by The Brokedowns, continuing their hot streak from two years ago. If you missed their (fantastic) 2014 album, Life Is a Breeze, these three bangers are a good of a place as any to play catch up. Combining the upbeat nature of The Copyrights or the Dopamines, the gruff shouts of Dillinger Four, and the self-loathing of… well, all of those bands (plus more), The Brokedowns alone are enough to make a Midwesterner.
Side two sees Direct Hit! contributing two new tracks that kind of bridge the gap (so to speak) between the supernatural themes of their previous work to their newer drug-centric songs. “Chemical Ability” doesn’t directly mention the apocalypse, but there are references to hooded men and mutations, linking it to the Hell-on-Earth setting of 2013’s Brainless God (and to a lesser extent, last year’s More of the Same compilation*), while “Avert Your Eyes” tells the story of an alcoholic (or at least someone in a perpetual state of drunkenness), leading up to the rest of the trip that makes up their latest album, Wasted Mind. The only thing that these songs are missing is a well-placed “Fuck You! Get Pumped!”.
Record Store Day might be yet another holiday becoming co-opted by big corporations to get people to spend money on things that they don’t need, but as long as the little guys like Red Scare have something to say, there’s still hope. And Making a Midwesterner is proof of that.
4 / 5
*This is unrelated to the review, but it’s worth mentioning: if Domesplitter counts as a full length album despite being made up of previously released material that was re-recorded, then More of the Same really ought to have been considered Direct Hit!’s third full length because it’s the exact same thing.
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