We’re probably past the point of referring to Black Numbers as an up-and-coming indie/punk record label. Last year the label put out high-powered, critically-acclaimed albums by bands like Luther, Banquets, The Reveling and Static Radio NJ. Judging from the sound of their first real release of 2012, a four-way split LP featuring two songs each from Grey Area, The Reveling, The Copyrights and Luther, the label has got no intentions of slowing down any time soon.
The split kicks off with two songs (“Lucky” and “Bad Anything”) from New York’s Grey Area. If you aren’t familiar, Grey Area were formed from the ashes of former NYHC veteran bands like Warzone and Black Train Jack. The former track brought a smile to my face immediately, harkening back to the melodic, post-hardcore stylings of “4 AM”-era Avail. “Bad Anything” is a little more post-skate punk (is that a thing???), not unlike the sound of the most recent Face To Face album, and is one of the split’s strongest tracks (which is saying something, because all four songs are pretty great).
The Reveling follow with “Trust Me” and “It’s Time To Ride.” The former is seventy-one seconds of hooky pop-punk which, sadly, is over almost before it starts. The latter is the hand’s-down winner for best track on the split, and is the latest example of why I truly think that The Reveling are the best new(ish) band in the game right now. Great, catchy hook, great dynamic changes in the intensity of the sound, and frontman Sean Morris’ vocals are a lesson in Brian Fallon-like passion and honesty.
The Copyrights first track, “The New Frontier” is the highest-energy album track and most likely to inspire circle-pit frenzy. “Straight To The Office” is a cover of the Scared of Chaka classic, and combines most of original’s fire and aggression with the Copyrights’ trademark three-chord rambunctious pop-punk sound.
Luther close things out with “Sixty-One” and “The Door Is A Penthouse.” Astute readers will remember me liking Luther’s recent “Siblings + Sevens” release, but thinking that it was ‘close-but-not-quite’ to being a really solid release. These two tracks are much, much more solid. While still edgy and raw, the sound is a little more focused and polished, and I think they do a much better job of accurately represent the sound that Luther is going for.
The Black Numbers four-way split LP is a great release to mark my first review of the new year. It left this listener eagerly awaiting new music from each of the four bands, which makes it the perfect type of a release for a label featuring working-class bands to put out; as it does a brilliant job of giving long-time listeners something new while introducing new listeners to small samples of what they’ve been missing out on.