"50% Straight Edge. 50% Boozer. 100% Fucking Crucial." - Keep It Up bumper sticker
It's simple, catchy, tough, honest, and totally posi. Keep it Up is the real deal hardcore sound, made up of members from the underrated metalcore band Rise Over Run and up-and-coming hardcore act A Day And A Deathwish. Oh, and did I mention Alexisonfire's merch guy?
Having grabbed a few dates on Alexisonfire's big tour last April when the bought-outs in Boys Night Out couldn't make it, Keep it Up got some major exposure playing sell-out crowds in Montreal and Ottawa. Although the big appeal of the band within "the scenester's scene" is the fact the lead singer is, in fact, the handsome merch dude for AOF, real hardcore fans enjoy Keep It Up's take on old-school positive hardcore, taking inspiration from bands like Minor Threat, Youth Of Today, and Gorilla Biscuits.
When I saw Keep It Up on the abovementioned tour, I was taken by complete surprise to see band of such a genre on tour with Alexisonfire and Blue Skies At War. Although highly enjoyable, it was incredibly awkward with a band on stage singing "Small Man, Big Mouth" by Minor Threat to a bunch of 16-year old girls who were there to fuck Dallas Green. But their set blew me away with their intense stage presence and hardcore attitude.
The songs on their debut 7" are short, fast, and, like most positive hardcore, brutally honest. Attacks are made on organized religion, pretentious "scenesters," racists, and your everyday cynical and judgemental assholes. The lyrics are very well-written, although the F-bomb is dropped a little too often to be considered well thought-out. It's almost as if they had original lyrics but wouldn't fit well with the tempo of the song, so they put "fuck" here and there and everywhere to spread it out more evenly.
But complaints aside, if you can ignore the overbearing "fudge" words, you'll see that Keep it Up has a lot of intelligent things to say and some eyes to open:
"Your perspective is not enlightened / It's fucking uninformed / If you don't see the best / Of what's in front of your eyes / Then change it for the better."
Every song on this 7" is a winner and clocks in at under two minutes, the highlights being "United Party," a song about what Keep it Up is all about, and their Youth of Today cover of "Thinking Straight," in which they improve said song with much-easier-to-listen-to vocals. Lead singer Chris O'Toole's voice is loud and tough with lots of attitude without being too macho. The guitar work is simplistic but well-orchestrated in making a fierce hardcore sound.
Be warned though, Hatebreed fans. This is not Victory Records hardcore. This doesn't have any heavy breakdowns, "mosh parts," Cookie Monster-vocals, or cheesy straight-edge lyrics. It's straight up, honest, and fast hardcore, the way it should be.