NOFX / The Spits – [Split EP]

Thursday, 27 January 2011

"Fat” Mike Burkett has gone on the record reasonably recently saying that, shortly before work began on Coaster in 2009, NOFX has strayed a little too far from center for everyone in the band's comfort and needed a little reigning in for their next record. “I asked why we aren't we playing old-school punk anymore,” remembers the singer of the time. “we've been playing this 'NOFX breakneck speed' melodic hardcore, [but] hardcore started with The Germs and Black Flag and Minor Threat. That's where Coaster was; the first five songs on the album are very much a reflection of that. We tried to get some of the sound too; Bill Stevenson produced it and we went for The Germs' guitar sound. You can hear it in “Blasphemy” and “First Call.” In fact, the guitar tone on “First Call” is as close as we could get to the tone on (GI); it's super-clean with a weird guitar.”

NOFX' conscious attempt to return to their roots with Coaster worked out pretty well, but the muse obviously needed more because the band has really returned to some absolute basics on this untitled EP. This time out, NOFX splits a 7” with The Spits, drops two rampaging tracks and does it with time to spare.

Without meaning to sound trite or cliche, NOFX really plays like they mean business here; every imaginable frill has been cut from both “Hold It Back” and “Teenage Existentialist” and (no matter how long it may have taken) NOFX' side sounds like it was recorded in a hurry. The total duration of NOFX' side clocks in at just three minutes and forty-two seconds. While it might be quick, it is by no stretch of the imagination sloppy though – amid the grainy production done, Fat Mike's bass and Smelly's drums cut a perfect line through the blaze of guitars laid down by El Hefe and Eric Melvin and leave ample space for Burkett's vocal, which hasn't had the edge it does here in years. In these two cuts is the excitement of the band's early sound that longtime fans feared had faded with time but will be gratified to know simply has not; it's really exciting and will make listeners wish the band had used the extra space left on the seven-inch for just one more song.

Because NOFX sets the tone of this untitled EP so well, it would be hard to imagine that The Spits would even come close but what comes through on the flipside of the EP is better than anyone could have hoped for.

Back in the day when split releases were done most often as a cost-saving measure, while bands would pair with peers occasionally, the best ones split releases those where each band retain their individual identities  but bleed together to create a really smooth mix and transition between each other. In this case, the grainy production and urgency from the first side continue into the second but, where NOFX got back to melodic hardcore, there's a lean and muscular punch to The Spits' side that commands comparisons to both vintage SoCal hardcore and gunk punk, unquestionably.

The first song on The Spits' half of this EP, “Wait,” is all about making sure the band has listeners' complete attention as, in less than a minute and a half, the band presents themselves as the galvanized, hardened vets they are. Here, singer Sean Woods offers up an infectiously bored and petulant performance, but it works out beautifully because his bandmates have enough muscle to back him and the song somehow becomes an anthem because of the deadpan vocal delivery; here, The Spits really throw their weight around and prove that their gunk punk can stand up to NOFX' melodic hardcore any day of the week. The going gets even better for the band as, after a loud and annoying intro that sounds like an electric shaver dropped running in a tin can, the band swings hard and fast through “Get Our Kicks,” which sounds like the most malicious punk party anthem ever committed to tape.

All that said, and there's no doubt that this untitled EP is a success. For The Spits, it sees the band carrying on their tradition of not actually naming any release on which the band appears, but also getting a little better exposure, which they richly deserve. For NOFX, it finds the band following through on their plan that began with Coaster and re-discovering some really bad-ass melodic hardcore roots. In both cases, the excitement is up – here's hoping that no one waits to long to get more music out.



According to Fat Wreck Chords' web site, this untitled release was limited to 1,009 copies and is sold out. There are a few left on Amazon however, and they can be purchased here .

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