Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Split seven inches! Part of me wonders what the world would look like without these morsels of music and cohabitation — more than likely a clammy, Brazil-esque waste land of no joy and cold comforts. But we don’t have to worry about that now, as split releases are plentiful, and Vancouver bands Sightlines and Crystal Swells are doing it the right way.
Both bands delight in fuzzed-out guitar work — but don’t think that you’ll be playing a two headed coin when you throw this new release on: Sightlines have a restricted, experimental sound, with a pop punk foundation; Crystal Swells have evolved from their early noise pop work to something more evil — the bass is working twice as hard to create a mood of dread, and the guitars are happy to go along with it. This is a split that gives you two different flavours of rock and roll and doesn’t waste a lot of time doing it.
The Sightlines material features wholesome, predictable chord changes and fat drum fills. Eric Axen’s vocals dictate a space of poetic reflection within the storming rhythms of the music, as he switches with expertise from robotic to creatively slurred phrasing. Veterans of bands Tough Age and Cascadia, the guys in Sightlines know how to put on a sonic carnival within a limited time frame. “Commiseration,” while only a minute long, offers up everything a good crowd pleaser of a punk track should, especially the sentiment of the final line: “Vancouver knows how to keep a poor man down.”
Crystal Swells use their portion of the album to show why they’re one of Vancouver’s best bands. As if they’d been communing with Stephen Colbert’s nightmares, both song titles deal in the subject matter of bears. The tracks also showcase a renewed sense of anxiety and muddy metal influence. If you could have grabbed me by the shoulders all those months ago, as I spun the original CS seven inch over and over again, and told me that the future would hold two tracks of Motorhead thrash-tastic material by the same group, I would have broken down and cried with excitement. Thankfully, I’m older and wiser now. I’ll probably settle for cranking the new split at the beach, appropriately decked out in a jean jacket and flip flops.
This new album is a self-release, so feel free to show your love for hardworking DIY record junkies who think putting out their own peach-coloured vinyl makes sense. Did I mention the two tracks about bears?
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)
Top Tracks: “Commiseration” ; “Beach Bear”