“Twisted Around,” the debut release by Ex-Friends (fronted by Joel Tannenbaum of Plow United) is a fun EP all around and a good model of the true punk 7″ spirit. There’s a noticeable flare of folk-y guitar, enough to add some flavor to an otherwise straight old school pop punk style. Tannenbaum’s gruff ‘n gravelly vocals, sort of Dropkick Murphys-Screeching Weasel hybrid, would be right at home in a street punk or maybe a hardcore band, but I don’t think it always lends itself too well to this brand of pop punk. It seems to work out in some songs (“Punk Rock Wedding, Punk Rock Divorce,” West Chester Nuclear Winter”) and not so hot on others “Rainy Season,” “Model Minority).
The addition of Audrey Crash belting out choruses adds a raw power to the songs; the sort of background vocals that sound like they’re being shouted from the back of a garage or bar. It’s a great way of keeping the music “down to earth,” in the most punk sense.
Overall, “Twisted Around” is a nice little taste of a side project that seems to have potential to be popular among the Teenage Bottlerocket/Masked Intruder crowd, if those fans are willing to indulge a rougher vocal style.“Twisted Around” was released earlier this year via Yo Yo Records. The band is planning on returning to the recording studio in February to work on their debut full-length with Paper + Plastick.