The second volume of Takeover Records's 3-way split series may contain a trio of acts that all fall roughly under the pop-punk banner, but it's thankfully got a nice helping of diversity going for it. That being said, it's like most compilations, aside from its 9-track-28-minute running length, in that it's got a few killer tracks, some mediocre fodder, and others that go nowhere.
Near Miss kicks the split off, and in a really schizophrenic way. On their disc opener, "Number 7," they're a skate-oriented punk rock outfit in the vein of Bigwig (who have ex-members here, actually). The next track, "At The Seam," we find the main vocalist here yelling in the first and only "verse" -- more or less -- like Comeback Kid's Scott Wade, but following it is a chorus-esque part that tries to keep in the same melancholic fashion, but feels rather disconnected because its melodic nature is that of a different genre; it's downright pop-punk, clashing with its preceding "verse" entirely too much. The main problem on this middle offering is that while others are combining hardcore and pop-punk well, the band awkwardly segregates the two inside of the same sphere here. In the least, the track does segue really nicely into "Now Rectify," a mostly melodic, pseudo-anthemic track that saves any yelling fits for the end.
The best band of the disc is easily Reeve Oliver. Their sorta-punk-pop take on the Foo Fighters makes for a pretty enjoyable trio of tracks, and while their style is immensely simple, it works well. "Summer" is an undeniably anthemic lead for their portion, as it sounds like one of the better singles from There Is Nothing Left To Lose, spiced up with some subtle keyboards. Any of their three cuts, however, could easily be mistaken for excerpts from any rock radio playlist; those being the few good songs, of course. There isn't a whole lot to say about Reeve Oliver other than what's already been mentioned; they just simply take the gold on the split with three slices of pop-rock goodness.
While the Matches' sole full-length to their name is chock full of some pretty catchy punk-pop songs, their presence here is a bit underwhelming. While the first 7 songs of the split mostly rely on upbeat pop harmonies and mid-to-fast tempos, the Matches close it out with a pair of acoustic tracks, the lethargic "Sick Little Suicide" and moderately fun "Shoot Me In The Smile;" the latter may not be the most superb offering ever, but it's better than the plugged-in version. Preceding the pair is "A Girl I Know," which sounds like it was recorded in a toilet stall with the microphone lodged in the hot air hand dryer.
The split overall lands somewhere between "mediocre" and "decent," but like everything, has its moments. If you're a fan of either of the first two bands on the disc, this should spur your interest, but Matches fans may not be too thrilled about the production and song quality of their contributions.
Takeover Records 3-Way Issue #2