Now this is what DIY is all about. Fledgling suburban Chicago label Be Mine Records has released this split CD between two complete unknowns in the Chicago scene [shit, even *I* hadn't ever heard of them, and I pour over Chicago show listings to keep up-to-date]. After taking in the humorous liner notes [each band wrote a story about the other band, with varying success], I get the picture that all eight of these guys must be really good friends. While the two bands don't have a ton in common musically, the bond that unites this split CD is what is so sorely missing in so many of the "big budget" pairings that seem to exist only to sell more records. Friendship is getting scarcer and scarcer in the ever-growing "indie" scene.
But I'm not here to write a thesis on corruption in the scene, I'm here to review this lil' ol' CD. So review it I shall.
The first band up is the Amazing Interceptors. Sadly, the first thing I noticed about their four songs is the fact that they are recorded poorly. The band's sound, while nowhere near breakthrough or unique, is a good combination of 80s Chicago punk like Naked Raygun mixed with some of the angular sounds of newer Chicago bands like the Honor System or the Arrivals. This definitely *isn't* your typical suburban Chicago pop punk. I'm pretty sure these guys would kick Lucky Boys Confusion's ass if they had the chance. Their standout track to me is "Failure," a three and a half minute uptempo punk song with vocals that remind me of Dan Hanaway [of the previously mentioned Honor System], plus a really cool screaming part at the end [but again, don't worry - it doesn't sound like Finch]. So overall, I think the band has some potential, but the shoddy recording of their songs really kills any momentum they might receive from this CD.
Taking up the next four songs is B.O.T., which apparently stands for Books On Tape, although the acronym is seemingly always used. As for their music, I gotta say that these songs get wedged into your brain without you even realizing it. Self-recorded, the band puts forth a much better sound than their compatriots at the beginning of the CD. The instrumentation the band uses is much more diverse, as well. This is not some no-frills punk band. Think instead along the lines of the crunchy guitar lines of Weezer and the punchy keyboard noodling similar to early Get Up Kids melding with the sonic buildups and collapses that made bands like Hum and the Appleseed Cast famous. What I initially considered the band's weakest point, the vocals, has turned back around on me. I find myself attracted to the singer's squeaky clean voice. He almost seems too shy to even be singing, especially once the music gets cranked up a few volume notches. You keep waiting for his voice to start to waver or crack, but it remains remarkably on par for all four tracks. You become even more surprised as the singer lets loose on "Boyscout Dropout," belting out screams you didn't think he had a chance in hell of even thinking of.
So, as is the case with every split CD, one band always comes out as the victor and in this case that band is B.O.T. Not only is their sound more unique and well-rounded than the Amazing Interceptors, they also have quite possibly the best bio I've ever had the pleasure of reading [if you'd like to read it, click here and scroll down a bit]. In any event, I applaud both of the bands as well as the label for investing the time and money into a project such as this that will probably only live on for posterity's sake. In 50 years, these guys will be pulling this CD out to show their grandkids just how they spent their teenage years. Until that time, let's wish them the best of luck.
The Amazing Interceptors - Sandbox
B.O.T. - Stretched Around A Dream