Cartel - The Ransom (Cover Artwork)


Cartel: The RansomThe Ransom (2004)

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Where did this band come from? And, more importantly, why aren't they absoutely huge yet? Atlanta quintet Cartel do what so many other bands are attempting to do today - write sincere, catchy, hook-filled pop-punk/rock. The thing is, most of their peers are trying and coming up with rather medioc.
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Where did this band come from? And, more importantly, why aren't they absoutely huge yet? Atlanta quintet Cartel do what so many other bands are attempting to do today - write sincere, catchy, hook-filled pop-punk/rock. The thing is, most of their peers are trying and coming up with rather mediocre results [or, even worse, they're resorting to screaming and ruining a perfectly good vocal melody]. Cartel avoids the pitfalls of mediocrity and with this five song EP, should propel themselves to the top of the emotional pop punk heap.

The music on here is so infectious, you'll need a vaccination to get these melodies out of your mind. The music itself is on the higher side of competency, with blazing guitar riffs dominating the landscape [as seen in the Hot Rod Circuit-esque "Hey, Don't Stop"]. This record crunches at all the right places; the production on here is absolutely spectacular.

But what really steals the show is singer Will Pugh. His vocals are as pure as the winter's first snowfall with enough bite to make you sit up and pay attention. And when he hits the high note in the EP's title track? Fuggedaboudit. Even though he doesn't need any help, members of A Small Victory contribute gang vocals on a few of the songs as well.

Even the lyrics, which in this genre's case are usually rather cliche and weak, are worth listening to. Sure, lines like "I would cross a thousand seas / and in our perfect world you would wait at the other side" are a bit on the cheese side, but this kid sings them with such passion that the high school poetry aspect of it is negligible.

It's rare that a brand new, unknown band makes this much of an impact on me. But time and time again, every time I spin this EP I find myself absolutely enthralled with each and every song. This band probably won't remain unsigned for long, so get a copy of this now.

Luckie St. [clip]

Stream entire EP here


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (December 24, 2005)

this is what good music sounds like. and if you don't like it that's ok too. but don't be a dick and say shit if you don't like the music or this band. anyways nice job guys with the EP. can't wait to see you when you come to town next time.

Anonymous (August 6, 2005)

I absoutly love love everything that i have heard from Cartel, I just happened to stumble upon them when i went to a concert to see Rocket Summer. All the members were so full of energy, and you could tell that they were loving what they do! Thanks for a great show! Plus it doesnt hurt that the memebers are quite cute! ha

Anonymous (January 22, 2005)

to the guy a few posts below, chill out. new found glory does not "kick ass", and i'll gladly show you my self-released ep. thanks.

Anonymous (October 4, 2004)

I witnessed Cartel for the first time when they played in Urbandale IOWA at a little bar called House Of Bricks. Although the crowd wasn't exactly huge, the boys of Cartel seemed to throw all their energy into the songs. I found myself smiling during the entire show because one of the guitarists is HILARIOUS and the excitement was out of control between the band & crowd. Out of all the bands that played that night Cartel put on the most enjoyable show and I think you all are doing exactly what you should be doing- loving music and sharing that with others. ROCK ON! woooh!

Anonymous (July 23, 2004)

This band is pretty damn awesome and they are some of the coolist guys I know. Thats not just saying that from talking to them at a show I went to school with most of them and became pretty good friends with a couple of them at the time. I know that they have worked very hard for what they are getting. They have been playing music all through high school and it was good then but this is a big improvement. Keep is up fellas

Anonymous (July 22, 2004)

got this EP last month or month before summit like that, never been off... great band :)

Anonymous (July 20, 2004)

Wow... So many of you assholes out there blaming them for making good music...

"The last thing these guys are is sincere. They're in it for nothing more than raping the music before moving on to whatever is hot next."

What the hell is that supposed to mean? Even if that was the case, you cant blame them for wanting to make money. You all know that any of us would jump on the chance to do something like this.

So can we please cut the whole "I'm a rebel and do not want to fit in" bullshit? The funny thing is, is that pop punk is not nearly as popular as most the other genres. You still have rap and rock way ahead.

The only really popular pop punk band out there right now is New Found Glory.... And in my opinion they kick ass anyway.

Oh and one more thing, before you judge these guys, show me your self released ep.


Anonymous (July 18, 2004)

these guys ARE talented. they HAVE busted ass to get where they are. they're NOT a bunch of lazy crap-for-crap punk rockers that write for the sake of popularity, it just turns out that what they do becomes popular so easy and so fast.

good review. good EP.


Anonymous (July 12, 2004)

sounds like all the other bullshit to me. maybe they'll make a buck off it. that's all that crap like this is good for. when the fuck is this emo thing going to die anyway?

Anonymous (July 7, 2004)

apparently, the guys in Cartel have never heard of the band Steadlur. funny, that these guys try to associate with Cartel through bullshit rumors. try another means of getting famous steadloser.

Anonymous (July 4, 2004)

everyone who doesnt like cartel can screw!! they are awesome.. and not only for just the atlanta area, im from pittsburgh pennsylvania! the music is great and if you dont like it then dont bother posting negative comments about them, just dont listen to it if you dont like it! duh! you people seriously need to get a life if all you do all day is sit there and diss bands.. and to cartel- you guys are awesome no matter what those gay low lifes say!!

Anonymous (July 2, 2004)

this is the best local band atlanta has had in a very, very long time. actually, they're one of the best bands i've ever heard. and that's a lot, seeing as how young they all are. and they put on one of the best shows i've ever experienced, and i can't help but to keep going back for more. you guys are super nice and talented. i can't wait to see what you have coming next for us all.

Anonymous (July 1, 2004)

hey, this is will from cartel. I don't know who it is who is posting negative comments about us on here but i would like to. As a member of cartel i would like to say that we have never mistreated anyone as a band or had any kind of negative attitude toward anyone or anything. i don't know where comments like the carpetbagger (who are you and do you really know us?) and saying lots of people don't like our attitude some from. We don't knowingly emit any kind of attitude from the stage or off of it as a band so please don't think that about us. We are just kids who love to play music and are having the time of our lives pursuing this. I don't want anyone to feel like we're dicks or assholes so please let us know if this happens. We are humbled by our success so far and will continue to be because we know that it can go away as quickly as it came. We are not carpetbaggers. we write this kind of music this way because it is honestly the only way we know how to write. As a songwriter i can tell you that it's not possible for us to write anything but energetic pop rock. i apologize if this seems trendy but trust me, we were writing it from day one and we will always write it. Trends happen, the distorted electric guitar is a trend, rock and roll is a trend. Trends are how musicians reinvent themselves to make themselves better. We are not trendy....we are just who we are. This review was awesome and it made our day collectively. Thank you to all the fans who have posted good things about us on here and come to shows. it means the world to us to see you guys out there singing along. as far as any negative comments goes. if we have offended or hurt you in anyway please don't hesitate to talk to one of us about it. it is our position as a band to be as nice as possible to everyone out there not only because it's the right thing to do but because it's just good public relations work honestly. it doesn't matter how good you are if everyone thinks you're a jerk so again, please talk to us if we've hurt or offended you. i promise we'll make it right. Thanks again everyone and keep listening.

Anonymous (July 1, 2004)

cartel is amazing from what ive heard, a lot of my friends go to their shows and i have yet been able to go to one! wahh..

Anonymous (June 29, 2004)

amazing EP, the prodcution is perfect.

Anonymous (June 29, 2004)

who is lots of people?

Anonymous (June 28, 2004)

Okay, we all don't love Cartel. Stop spreading horrible rumours. Lots of people can't stand their attitude.

Anonymous (June 28, 2004)

not only is this a great mark for our atlanta-area scene (we all love cartel) but this band is AMAZING live. check it out, yo.

Anonymous (June 28, 2004)

thank you for the great review!

Sureshot (June 26, 2004)

Nice stuff, liked it.

Anonymous (June 24, 2004)

Hey, you spell riff with two f's, champ.

Anonymous (June 24, 2004)


The last thing these guys are is sincere. They're in it for nothing more than raping the music before moving on to whatever is hot next. Trust me, I know them. They're like carpetbaggers. Asshole carpetbaggers, at that.

And if I want catchy, I'll listen to Kylie Minogue. They should take the shrink-wrap off their balls and use them.


Anonymous (June 24, 2004)

Arrright, seriously. Why the fuck does everything BSD posts nowadays come off as completely retarded?

Anonymous (June 23, 2004)

"The music on here is so infectious, you'll need a vaccination to get these melodies out of your mind."
this doesn't make sense at all. you use vaccinations to prevent something from happening, not to get rid of something that already exists in you. allow me to correct your metaphor. "The music on here is so infectious, you'll need an antiobiotic to get these melodies out of your mind."

Anonymous (June 23, 2004)

"Someones been playing too much GTA3"

I've been playing too much MANHUNT. I like when you blow away two hunters at once, the guy says "Oh god, I just blew my load!". SICK!


Anonymous (June 23, 2004)

Why do you want every band to be huge??? So that they get really popular and start catering to little girls to make money? I don't get it. If they're a success in their scene, and for their genre, that's about as good as it gets for pop-punk.


CaptainCrunch (June 23, 2004)

I agree. I like this EP. I also like well-done pop-punk. Problem is, the genre is crap now because of its mass commercial appeal. The majority of pop-punk bands will write songs to sell records and end up on the radio instead of creating their own identity through originality. I hope more stuff like this pops up.

Anonymous (June 23, 2004)

they're not huge

cus this is an ep

Icapped2pac (June 22, 2004)

I'm a sucker for well-done music of this sub-genre. I'm 3 songs in, and so far this sounds pretty damn good. And I agree, Scott, I can't see them being unsigned for much longer. I might have to buy this shit.

Anonymous (June 22, 2004)


Yeah, his voice is pretty good. But umm... I keep thinking im listening to the girl from Fifth Hour Hero. :)

TahoeJeff (June 22, 2004)

yeah..the clip was pretty good, so I ordered it. Interpunk is out of stock, so if you want this you're going to have to go to the bands website.

Anonymous (June 22, 2004)

More like Suckie St.

lostinthecrowd13 (June 22, 2004)

The lead singer's voice sounds like Kenny from The Starting Line but not quite as whiny. Sounds good from the clip I downloaded though.

CrookedSuperhero (June 22, 2004)

Someones been playing too much GTA3

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