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


REVIEW: Blame Mary – “Blame Mary”


There is something to be said for straight ahead punk rock. It’s a style that, regardless of how much weird shit I get stoked on, will always have a place in my heart. Blame Mary is a band that just goes. No frills, no bullshit. Blame Mary’s self titled EP is very much an archetypal punk rock record in a lot of ways. It’s an encapsulation of the short/fast/loud aesthetic that this kind of music was built around. It’s literally the kind of record that you could show anyone, and they’d say “yeah, that’s a punk rock record.”

The band burns through four songs in about eight minutes. It’s there and gone, and every song has a raw intensity. Most of this stems from how it was recorded. It was recorded live in studio, and the live on the floor style works perfectly for them. How you hear it is how they play it. It’s not been produced to death.

The trio is very adept at making a well worn genre sound fresh and vital. This isn’t easy to do, especially in the world of melodic hardcore or garage punk. Blame Mary’s stated goal is to create “simple music that is raw and soulful, while keeping to a very basic set-up.” They nailed it.

Blame Mary