Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
With The Punches
Keep It Going EP
Written by: PP on 03/04/2009 16:19:57
In the series of new pop punk bands to get stoked on, New York's With The Punches are surely the next one. Essentially, these guys sound like The Wonder Years on speed, as they have poppy breakdowns infesting a pop punk sound deeply rooted in honest hardcore. But I'll let the guys speak for themselves because they give an excellent picture of what this band is about: "You will find no over the top choreography, no gimmicks, no silly hair cuts, no fashion trends, no bullshit. Every member of With the Punches grew up listening to music at a time where it still meant something. Shows were our Friday night hang out spot. The guy that smashed you in the head in the pit is now your best friend. Being crushed at the bottom of a giant sing-a-long is your favorite memory. We will do our best to give you music that comes from our hearts and continues the passion shown to us from bands we grew to love."
Translating that into musical terms: Throw in some New Found Glory melodic guitar lines, a singer who sounds identical to Soupy from The Wonder Years, huge energy throughout, and a list of influences ranging from the aforementioned to Lifetime, The Movielife, Daggermouth and H2O, and you've got their debut seven-track EP "Keep It Going". Gang shouted "Let's Go's" of energetic album opener "Don't Catch A Brick" set things in motion, and from that moment onwards the record is pure punk hardcore / pop punk godhood throughout. The vocal performance of Jesse is fantastic: it's possible to hear every drip of passion trickle through his from-the-top-of-my-lungs style delivery. He has loads and loads of catch-phrases scattered throughout, be it the "I spent the better part of last night convincing myself that I could set things straight in my life, it won't wait." bit of "Thrill Your Idols", which is ridiculously catchy because the vocal stress-points are just in the right places to make the song sound irresistible in the best way, or the name-dropping of Lifetime's classic "Jersey's Best Dancers" album on the fastest song on the record "Stick And Move": "Operate on little to no sleep, caffeine and Jersey's Best Dancers, this is the soundtrack that saved my life"... they are small details, but when they absolutely demand the listener to sing along on top of the back-chilling melodies/harmonies, they make the difference between a good and a great release. Throw in a couple of gang shouts for extra energy and you've got a fucking winner.
"Burned At Both Ends" has a melodic guitar lead that recalls songs like "It Never Snows In Florida" or "You've Got A Friend In Pennsylvania" by New Found Glory, while the vocalist is busy re-creating the all-fun, unbelievably catchy vocal harmonies of Soupy from The Wonder Years. The lyrics make the song just that much more special: "It's so clear on the long drive home, can't stand another night alone, it just might be a let down but these chances never last, so I'm screaming out through the car window to the sounds of the stereo, this just might be my breakdown, but I'm not ready to let this go", and boom, the breakdown arrives only a bit later. It's a great moment, and if you don't like it, you must either a) really hate melody or b) hate having fun, or c) both, in which case I feel sorry for you. Things are kept going with the appropriately titled album closer "Keep It Going", which is like straight from the playbook of The Wonder Years, and you all know what that means for this writer.
That's a lot of praise for something that effectively sounds like something you've heard a million times before - on paper, at least. So what makes With The Punches better than the other bands doing this type of sound at the moment? Their choruses are catchier, they have a stupendous amount of energy, their songs are filled with catch-phrases you'll be singing along for weeks, the passion is undeniable upon hearing the fantastic vocal performance, and the songwriting is generally focused on straight-forward singalongs and having fun. There are currently SO many bands who are referencing the oldschool pop punk / early New Found Glory sound, which is inevitably going to lead into over saturation sooner than later, but for the time being, almost every one of these bands is delivering crazy-good anthems capable of having me go nuts during the songs should I hear them in a live environment. So lets enjoy while it lasts, shall we, especially because With The Punches are one of the best ones of the bunch.
Download: Stick And Move, Burned At Both Ends
For the fans of: The Wonder Years, Lifetime, New Found Glory
Release date 17.01.2009