REVIEWS: Save Ends – “Hug Your Friends”


Let’s start this out simply, as I’ve talked about about Save Ends a few times already. The stuff I said I loved about this band in 2012 and 2013 are the same things I love now. I don’t want to just be lazy and recycle the same talking points, so I’ll tackle this a little differently than I usually do. At least the intro paragraph anyway. I first heard Save Ends right around the beginning of 2011, maybe even at the end of 2010. The first song I heard was “The Art Of Throwing People In Volcanoes.”  I don’t remember where I heard it, but I remember that I was totally into it immediately. I still get excited when that song pops up in a shuffle, on Tumblr, or whatever. That song made me want to hear more. The point I’m clumsily making is that I’ve been listening to this band for a while now. Almost as long as I’ve been doing this shitty little blog, actually. I’m always impressed by what they put out. This was true of their self released EPs, it was true of their debut LP, and it’s still true now.

The easiest way to talk about Hug Your Friends would be to place it in the band’s overall discography. It does exactly what their older records did. It builds on the strengths of all their other works. It’s why a lot of the praise you’ll see for this mirrors the praise of the older stuff. The obvious starting point is the overall sound. This band is really good at finding that great middle ground between indie rock and pop punk. Even their slowest, most reserved songs still have that heart and energy behind them. The hooks, the big choruses, whatever. All those things are on this record, but maybe a bit more restrained. The tonal shift is noticeable, especially compared to the more driving songs on Warm Hearts, Cold Hands. I’ve seen a lot of Lemuria comparisons in the press leading up to the release. To borrow from that comparison, the stylistic shift is comparable to how that band transitioned from Get Better to Pebble. The songs still have drive and energy, but the EP definitely plays in a more melancholy territory. It’s really fucking good though, and that’s what matters. Genre descriptions be damned.

i always thought the strongest thing about Save Ends has always been the vocals. I love bands that do the dual vocal thing. It’s rare to find a band where both people singing absolutely nail it. It’s a really easy thing to fuck up. That is absolutely not the case here. Christine Atturio and Brendan Cahill both sound as strong as ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s lead, back up, or wherever they are on a song. The interplay between the two is always a great thing. “I Fell Asleep” and “Love Like A Home” showcase how well their voices play off each other in a split lead situation. The songs they take the lead on individually, “Smudge” for Atturio and “Sam’s Lament” for Cahill, show how solid they are at carrying songs on their own.

Hug Your Friends is a fantastic record from start to finish. It’s clear that they’ve spent the last couple years really focusing on songwriting. Everything sounds crisp and alive. It’s everything you would expect from Save Ends.

Save Ends
Black Numbers
Buy It

REVIEW: Great Lakes USA – “Stumbling Distance”


Let’s get down to brass tacks. I grew up in a time when melodic hardcore, of the Epitaph/Fat Wreck variety, was the most popular kind of punk rock. Nostalgia all but guarantees that I get stoked on that kind of stuff. This is probably common of a lot of genre fans, especially if you are of a certain age. That being said, Great Lakes USA is 100% my shit.

Great Lakes USA is a band that is very much in line with the early/mid 2000s variety of melodic hardcore. There are a lot of similarities to bands like Strike Anywhere, A Wilhelm Scream, None More Black, and Defeater.The guitars are driving, the vocals are aggressive, and the harmonies are right on point. They’re definitely using a lot of genre tropes, but goddamn, it still sounds fresh.

Stumbling Distance is a hell of an EP. It’s high energy right from the get-go. “The Best Band At O’Brien’s” is a perfect opener. It lets you know exactly what is coming for the next 15 minutes. It’s short burst of gritty, melodic punk rock. This holds true, even on poppier songs like “Aim So Low.”

I don’t need to say much else. This is a melodic hardcore record. I feel like anyone reading this already knows what that means. Great Lakes USA are a picture perfect example of it being done right. Fucking get into it.

Great Lakes USA
Black Numbers
Coffeebreath And Heartache