Not too long ago Kind of Like Records and Bright & Barrow announced a split between Madison, WI’s Direct Hit! and Richmond, VA’s The Haverchucks. With two relatively young pop punk bands, one already established in the scene and the other just beginning to break out, releasing two brand new songs each, what’s not to love? Plus, check out that sweet cover art. Neither band would have been a likely candidate to have appeared on Beavis and Butthead, but the homage is still greatly appreciated by someone who can still remember watching the final episode of the show’s original run back in 1997.
The Direct Hit! half of the split takes a step backwards from the band’s last release (their split with Hold Tight!, which found them exploring near-metalcore territory). Across their two songs, Direct Hit! shows progression from the infectious pop punk sound that they’ve established over the last few years, while also still being able to retain it at the same time. “Operation” is a cover (originally performed by The Side Project, another pop punk band from Wisconsin) although cover or not, Direct Hit! takes a gritty approach to the song, akin to the songs from the band’s previous split with The Jetty Boys in which vocalist Nick Woods continue to use his new, rougher singing style. The lead guitar sounds almost like Teenage Bottlerocket, and the repeated chorus of “you’re just a tumor in my brain (I need an operation)” while being backed by handclaps is bound to get stuck in your head. While the song doesn’t differ much from the original, Direct Hit! manages to make it sound like it is a song of their own. Direct Hit!’s other song, “Fallout Shelter Television”, is a sing-along that ends just as abruptly as it begins, complete with a fart at the end of the track, nodding (intentionally or unintentionally) to the band’s predecessors in the Descendents and blink-182. This is Direct Hit! at their finest: gang vocals mixed with blazing speeds and a dash of humor.
The Haverchucks, on the other side of things, play pop punk as if it were 1992 again. Both of the band’s contributions would sound right at home in The Mr. T Experience discography, nasally vocals complimented with a bouncing bass and a melody that’s way catchier than something this distorted should be. “Winding Down” kicks off the Haverchucks side, and it comes complete with chants of “let’s go!”, and a rocking guitar solo that leaves before it wears out its welcome. In the other contribution, “(The Girl Gave Me) The Runaround” shows off the band’s ability to utilize Weasel-esque “woah-uh-woahs” with mastery, quite possibly being the best song that Dr. Frank never wrote. While the band is more or less channeling the early 90’s Lookout Records roster, The Haverchucks stand out by having a bassist they actually utilize as opposed to following the root note of the guitar. This is one of the things Green Day also used to break out of the mold, so get into The Haverchucks now before they begin writing high concept socio-political rock operas.
If this collection of songs is any indication of what either band’s next respective full length is going to sound like, you should already consider them the best pop punk albums of 2013. Fuck you, and get pumped.