Takeover Records has done it again: June 28th starts round two in their three-way split releases. This time, the split features three songs each from Near Miss (Takeover Records), Reeve Oliver (The Militia Group), and The Matches (Epitaph). Usually, I’m not a big fan of splits because more often than not, either one band will take the cake and leave the other one in the dust, therefore leaving the entire album in the reject pile. Or both (or in this case all three) bands are amazing and you’re left pissed off because there are only three songs from each band, which, in the end, leaves the album in the “not long enough” pile. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this split was to listen to, as well as how the whole package fits together so nicely.
First off, we owe a big, thank you to Yellowcard’s guitarist, Ben Harper, and his buddy Greg McDonald for forming Takeover Records back in ’97 and for signing bands like Inspection 12, Craig’s Brother and, of course, Near Miss. Second, we can thank The Militia Group and Epitaph for lending their bands to Takeover to create this melt-in-your-mouth, three-way split.
They start out this album nicely with “Number 7,” a shake-your-fist, mosh-worthy anthem about truth, justice, freedom and our need to “speak up, stand up and rise up.” Track two, “At the Seam,” introduces their softer side about “memories of a fading life,” and the bitterness they’re left with after their significant other turned on them. Track three, well, I’d love to explain this one, but unfortunately, there was a typo between the shell and the sleeve. The song is called, “Now Rectify,” and that’s what it says on the case. There are clearly lyrics that include the words, “now rectify,” but the lyrics printed in the sleeve are for a song called, “You’ve Mistaken.” “Now Rectify” sounds a bit more poppy than the other two songs, but I kind of was left hoping for a snippet of what the other song sounded like…the lyrics left me wondering what a heart-wrenching “loneliness that can’t be faked” actually SOUNDS like. Then there’s “Near Miss” that has that raspy, political, Good Riddance sound, only wrapped in a fresh tortilla with some sour cream on top for sweetness.
Reeve Oliver is the new skool equivalent to Foo Fighters and early Promise Ring. Very melodic, very upbeat tempos, and with vocals so smooth they could melt butter, which, for who knows what reason, is in your freezer behind your homemade Popsicles. Track four, “Summer,” has a happy, summery feel to it, but the song is actually about how “over her” he is, and how he’s not confused at all about the fact that he still misses her and all of her torment. “I Play the Sensitive Songwriter Card,” is a bit slower, but still rocks the smooth-factor. I don’t care what vocalist Sean O’Donnell says in track one… he IS confused! Does he love her? Does he miss her? Is she stupid for leaving? Why can’t she just relate to what the hell he’s trying to tell her? (No wonder she left.) “We’re All Gonna Die” is a story about parallel worlds in which people and squirrels are all dying at the same time, and the realization that yep, you guessed it, he misses her and doesn’t want to die without her, which again shows what an emotional wreck he is.
The Matches were the least impressive band on this split. Even though they’ve nailed the artsy-fartsy, Brit-rock, Euro-pop sound, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t hear from my 12-year-old little brother practicing on his bass while wearing his baby blue footsie pajamas. Ok, I don’t have a little brother, but that’s beside the point. Lyrically, however, I respected the psychological insight they had on the youth of America and on society as a whole, and the overall theme their songs shared about how fake appearance can be.
“A Girl I Know” is an honest glimpse in to the world of the sexy, insecure, bulimic girl who has no friends, whom all the guys fantasize about and keep behind their foreheads. Keeping with the same theme, “Sick Little Suicide” explains how substance abuse and “malnutrition to keep our curves tight” are things that are killing us inside, because “all that matters is what’s outside.” The last song on the split, “Shoot Me in the Smile,” is about the model whose photos are of her smiling, even though she’s “shakin’ and fakin’ a “perfect grin.”
Overall, this album has a lot to offer: especially to those who are sick of their CDs and looking for a few bands to check out.