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Album Review: The Creeps – “Beneath the Pines”

Punk rock, for me, begins with introspection. Now before I get tarred and feathered—anarchy, fucking-the-system, cops, politics, veganism, gender identity, and more are all just as equally valid. Blame it on the records I grew up with, blame it on my soft, mushy, poetic heart—but there’s still nothing more thrilling to me than self discovery. Navel gazing is the diving board that sends you plummeting into ideas. More and more, I can’t help but think that Guerilla Poubelle was right, and punk rock is existentialism. On the journey to change, we look inward; and I can’t help but think, all this moshing and screaming was us thrashing towards our own authenticity.

But gone are the days where punk meant only one thing. In the last thirty years, the genre has become a vehicle for self-reflection and a number of albums have shown the merit of this approach. Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, Hot Water Music’s Fuel For the Hate Game, and later, Against Me!’s Reinventing Axl Rose. The thread continues to the modern day and the music has become punk canon, a source of influence and intertextuality—conscious and subconscious—a sonic and perspective bookmark to flip back to when a comparison is warranted.

The CreepsBeneath the Pines very much follows in that same headspace, even if they don’t ape the sounds. Thematics aside, first and foremost, this is an album of great songs. And second, The Creeps are a pop punk band. What this means to the listener, is that this is a record with an even rarer color palette. Beneath the Pines is personal, melancholy, and melodic; and paired with its ghostly, reverb-drenched production—it makes for an experience as haunting as it is human.

But before we get too far, let’s look at how the Creeps succeed as a pop punk band. For me, the primary task of any catchy punk is to be, well, catchy—and this is where the Creeps build their foundation. The melodies across this album never cease being gorgeous. They stick to you like glue, and accordingly, they’re treated like the star of the show. There are some nice guitar flourishes throughout the album, but for the most part, they’re adhesive. This isn’t to diminish the instrumentals on Beneath the Pines, but rather to shine a light on their conceived unobtrusiveness. “Shimmer” opens with one such riff, and “In My Mind” features a catchy lead as well, but for the most part, they’re kept lean and better for it. They manage to balance being present without being overbearing, often scaling back to chugs to let the vocals breathe. They are the detailing that give the songs depth, but still communicate a common law: when the chorus comes in—you’re supposed to sing along.

The best problem an album can have is having too many highlights to list. “Bottom of Things” has some hard-hitting and relatable lyricism (“Eye contact—I practice everything. Except sleeping, I don’t do that much these days.”) packaged into a big, infectious chorus. It also features a somber, emotional bridge that builds to rapturous howls. “Bodies” is another excellent track, more aggressive than “Bottom of Things,” suitably propelled with the galloping strum of distorted power chords. The opening lyrics are almost a thesis statement: “These human bodies, such beautiful acts of betrayal.” It’s interesting and inherently relatable, a eulogy for our mortal vessels, doomed to flat tires and oil leaks—destined for a ditch. The chorus, for me, captures the inevitable, and how we humans fight to sublimate death into something we can idolize, the reclamation of suffering through art:

It’s not the tightest ship,

In fact there are holes,

You said, “you’re bleeding from the lip,”

I said, “it’s spilling from my soul.”

Attaching meaning to hurt is nothing new, but it succeeds holistically, in cabal with the melody and insistent rhythm, transcending metaphor to be screamed as a rallying cry.

In parallel to the album’s themes of nostalgia and memory, I can’t help but think about the records that shaped my taste and therefore my life. Do you know I remember where I was the first time I heard Repeater? Same for Fuel for the Hate Game, Searching for a Former Clarity, and The Empire Strikes First. All of those records are tied to sights and sounds, old futon beds and my first record player; my first laptop and my senior year of high school. These gave me the start I needed to digging up my insides. To pull a quote from “Fall:”

I fear we’re all just fated to these capsules of time

Like memories of pure bliss beneath these sky-tall pines

And either that’s all that’s left, or even those leave our minds

And then we all fall down,

And then we all fall

The Creeps paint a picture of a race against time—the same one we’re all running. I’ve been known to call art made for everyone to be art made for no one. These are books, movies, and songs that aspire to a sort of bland universality, that couch their stories and melodies in the most brash representatives of the human experience. They cover heartbreak, love, and worry with those exact words, like Mad Libs of the human condition. The Creeps dig deeper though, and in exploring themselves they end up with examinations of greater humanity—the failings of our body, the social contract, depression, and addiction. They do this through specificity, by joining a great tradition of punk rockers working through some shit. It’s a healthy reminder that even though we don’t have the same “sky-tall pines,” we do all have them—and they’re worth holding onto.

Beneath the Pines is at once heady and nostalgic, introspective and musical. It communicates experience skillfully, with slice-of-life imagery and universal angst. It inspires empathy, while also inspiring awe. This is a pop punk record unlike any I’ve heard before, and if this is where the Creeps landed after nearly two decades of activity, I think it speaks well of their trajectory. This is personal, specific music born from a unique vision—re-envisioning punk rock into something new, useful, and defiantly esoteric.

5/5



DS Interview: Skottie Lobotomy (The Creeps) talks new album, songwriting, and confrontational escapism

In a matter of weeks, after lamenting a drought of new music, I received three albums that I couldn’t stop spinning. There was The Penske File’s Salvation, Spanish Love Songs’ Schmaltz, and The Creeps’ Beneath the Pines. I’ve purged my thoughts in reviews, countless listens, and dozens of personal recommendations, but still, these are the records I can’t shake—three distinct visions of what modern punk rock can be, built on the foundation of expert songwriting.

Beneath the Pines isn’t out yet, but it has a special place among the three. It shares members with Crusades, a fantastic band that shocked the punk community by announcing their departure earlier this month; and comes as the follow-up to Eulogies, an album that allowed the Creeps to stretch their chops and become known as one of pop punk’s foremost songsmiths. While the connection is inevitable, to say that The Creeps is Crusades’ little brother—a near consolation prize to fans—is to ignore the band’s twenty years playing, releasing, and evolving. Beneath the Pines is a great album, no matter its relation—a singular vision, powered by introspection, killer melodies, and the sort of songwriting that marks you for life. It’s at once melancholy and hopeful, and with a few deft lyrics, will endear the hardest hearts into a singalong.

I was lucky enough to exchange emails with vocalist/guitarist Skottie Lobotomy on the new album, his songwriting process, and what it means to be punk through introspection. Check out the interview below.



The Creeps stream upcoming album “Beneath The Pines”

Ontario punk band The Creeps are streaming their upcoming album Beneath The Pines in its entirety.

You can give it a listen below.

Beneath the Pines is scheduled for release on May 4th via It’s Alive Records.



The Creeps (punk) stream new song “Even”

Ontario punk band The Creeps are streaming a brand new song off of their upcoming album, Beneath The Pines. The song is called “Even” and you can give it a listen here.

The group last released a split with No Marks in 2016. Beneath The Pines is scheduled for release on May 4th via It’s Alive Records.



The Creeps (punk) stream new song “Shimmer”

Ontario punk band The Creeps are streaming a brand new song off of their upcoming album, Beneath The Pines. The song is called “Shimmer” and you can take a listen to it below.

The group last released a split with No Marks in 2016. Beneath The Pines is scheduled for release later this year.



Stream new installment of All In Vinyl Split Series (The Creeps, The Kimberly Steaks, Dead Bars, The No Marks)

UK label All In Vinyl is streaming the next installment in Volume 4 of their split series, which will eventually encompass six 7″ records featuring two bands each. The first installment included Stay Clean Jolene, Does It Float, Future Virgins, and Good Grief while this new installment includes Dead BarsThe Kimberly SteaksThe Creeps, and The No Marks. Stream the entire second installment below.

The last 2 splits (the 3rd installment) have yet to be announced but we’ll keep you posted.



Stream two split 7-inches from “All In Vinyl Split Series Vol .4”

UK label All In Vinyl will be releasing Volume 4 of their split series.  Volume 4 consists of six 7″ records which will each feature two bands, including Stay Clean Jolene, Does It Float, Future Virgins, Good Grief, Dead Bars, The Kimberly Steaks, The Creeps, The No Marks, and four other bands that will be announced soon.

Currently, the first two 7-inches featuring Stay Clean Jolene, Does It Float, Future Virgins, and Good Grief are being streamed, and you can give them a listen here.



Video: The Creeps perform “Everything Makes Sense” at Fest 14

Ottawa-based punk band The Creeps performed their song “Everything Makes Sense” at Fest 14 in Gainesville.

You can watch their performance below.

The Creeps’ last release was their 2014 album “Eulogies,” which was released through It’s Alive Records.



Black Tower (Crusades, The Creeps) to release debut album on No Idea and Unspeakable Axe records

Ottawa punk/metal outfit Black Tower (featuring  members of Crusades, The Visitors, and The Creeps) have just announced that their debut album The Secret Fire will be released as a joint effort between No Idea Records and Unspeakable Axe Records.  Unspeakable Axe will be handling the CD version of the album, while No Idea will be taking care of the vinyl release.  The band is aiming to have the album released sometime before the summer solstice, so look out for it in June.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as new details come to light.  If you haven’t given the band a listen yet, you can check out a demo they released a few years back here.



Black Tower (Crusades, The Creeps) announce debut LP “The Secret Fire”

Ottawa punk/metal outfit Black Tower has just been formed from members of Crusades, The Visitors, and The Creeps. They have recently announced that they are wrapping up their work on their debut LP, The Secret Fire. While that is all the information we have on the group and their ongoing work with the LP, we will keep you updated as more details come to light.



Full Album Stream: The Creeps – “Eulogies”

Ottawa-based punk band The Creeps are streaming their upcoming album Eulogies in full. Check it out here.

The album — their first full-length release in seven years — will drop July 15 via It’s Alive Records. The band last released the EP “Our Time” in 2013.



The Creeps announce “Eulogies,” first full-length in seven years

Ottawa-based punk band The Creeps have announced details for their first full-length in roughly seven years. It’s called “Eulogies,” and it’s due out on “pretty soon” on It’s Alive Records.

Limited vinyl copies will be available at the band’s upcoming Pouzza Fest gig. Further information will be available shortly. To get you pumped for the release, The Creeps are streaming the album’s lead single, “Everything Makes Sense,” right here. Check it out.

The Creeps’ last release was their 2013 EP “Our Time.”



The Creeps (pop-punk) offer free download of new EP “Our Time”

Seemingly out of nowhere Ottowa pop-punk act The Creeps have released a brand new EP titled “Our Time” and as if that wasn’t groovy enough, they’re also offering it up for free download.  You can stream/download it right here.

The EP was apparently recorded last Summer.  Here’s what the band had to say about it:

Shortly after recording the ‘These Walls’ 7”, we started writing what at the time I envisioned would be the second of a three part series of records, begun by ‘These Walls’. The goal with these records was to tell a story that is a bit of a departure from our typical fare. I honestly have no idea if we’ll ever complete the trilogy as I’ve sort of lost the thread along the way, but after sitting on this batch of songs for a while, we are releasing part two. It’s called ‘Our Time’.

Much like for ‘These Walls’, we decided to record the songs ourselves and did so over a single weekend last summer. Our friend and co-conspirator Dave Williams (http://rockamongus.com/) handled the mastering, while our pal Mike Haddad (http://michaelgh.com/) took care of the cover art.

Sometime later this year we’ll have been a band for 14 years, which seems kind of crazy. Crazy that we’re still friends. Crazy that we still love making music together. But we are and we do, so here we are. Part of still wanting to do this thing is that there are people out there who actually care that we do, so instead of releasing this new record traditionally we’ve decided to give it away. Consider it an early birthday present from us. There’s an option on the Bandcamp page to pay what you want, so if you’re the type who enjoys supporting bands directly, feel free. But, honestly, we don’t care. Thanks for listening after all these years.



New Song: “Cold Feet” off upcoming The Creeps 7-inch “Follow You Home”

You can stream a brand new song from The Creeps over on the It’s Alive Records MySpace page.  The song is titled Cold Feet and it will appear on the band’s upcoming 7″ Follow You Home being released on It’s Alive July 14th.  Here’s what the label has to say about the release:

he Creeps have been doing their thing for the better part of a decade now. They get better and better with each release. They’ve been ruling these past couple of years. Follow You Home is The Creeps’ sound perfected! Incredible lead and backing vocals, bright and shiny guitar leads over driving rhythms, thick clean bass lines over precision drum beats… it’s all there. It’s hard to imagine them getting any better than this, but then again it has been and upward trend ever since their beginning. We’re super excited to finally have a record out with these creeps!

You can listen to an additional 2 songs from the 7″ on the band’s MySpace page.  I must admit that until today I hadn’t given these guys a listen but I’m really digging the songs I’m hearing.  Check them out if you aren’t familiar with them.