I recall checking out one of the Holy Mess' EPs back when I first heard they had signed to Red Scare and I was pretty stoked. I thought they were really good and I really liked whichever songs I heard. Then they released the self-titled compilation of their previous EPs on Red Scare and, for whatever reason, it never really clicked. It wasn't bad--far from it--but it just didn't get played too many more times in the Norville household. Still, I held interest in their upcoming, proper Red Scare debut.
If this digi-EP is any indicator, it should be a good 'un.
Things open up with the titular track (yes, I did learn my vocabulary from The Upright Citizens Brigade, why do you ask?). "Cold Goodbyes" begins with a nice little build up rhythm before things take off into a catchy song with gruff vocals. The song is clearly influenced by the Midwestern orgcore sound of bands like the Lawrence Arms, Off With Their Heads and Dillinger Four, along with the sound of peers like the Menzingers. It has a nice pace and lyrics I could find myself singing along to after just a few listens if I had a physical lyrics sheet to read along with.
Presumably "Cold Goodbyes" will be on the upcoming Cande Ru Las Degas and, if past Red Scare digital EPs can be any indicator, the next two songs are exclusive to this release. "The Saddest Girl to Ever Hold a Martini" is the slightest bit mellower and, again, has sing-along parts, especially the "alright, alright"s. The other vocalist has a few more cleanly sung parts throughout this track--all of which complement the gruff vocals with some lyrics like "My friend, my friend, don't you dare feel sorry / Hold onto your guns and bring your thieves along." However, the overall idea of the EP seems to be for them to sing large chunks of the songs together.
The third and final track is a cover of the Menzingers' "Male Call." The cover isn't drastically different because the Holy Mess and the Menzingers don't have radically different sounds, but it is unmistakably the Holy Mess. Once again, the collaboration on vocals works well for the song. Most importantly, the Holy Mess didn't butcher the song--they stayed true to it while still making it their own cover.
Though I wasn't as fond of The Holy Mess as I had hoped to be, I have a feeling I'll enjoy Cande Ru Las Degas quite a bit. This is pop-punk with gravelly vocals. I know some people will eat it up and others will moan that it isn't Guided by Voices. The Holy Mess are not reinventing the wheel (or even Axl Rose) and I get the feeling they don't particularly want to either. This is fun. This is catchy punk rock that would be a blast to sing along to while drunk--or maybe even while naked in the middle of the street, covered in blood that isn't your own, surrounded by cops and high on PCP. I don't know. I haven't tried that yet.
If these two new songs are any indicator, the full-length should be a favorite around Punknews when it comes out in August. After all, a band with good enough heads on their collective shoulders to choose wisely and cover the best Menzingers song along with the excellent tastes to cover the best band in general surely can't fuck up making an album of their own songs, can they?
Don't take my word for it! Check it out on their Punknews profile!