You can't write a witty little introduciton for a review on bands like this. It just wouldn't match up.
Down To Nothing play thrashy hardcore with gang vocals and what can only be described as "bro parts." If you don't know what I mean by that, well, it's hard to describe. Go ask a kid with a neck tat what he gets down to and he'll show you what's up. As far as the lyrics are concerned, I can tell that these guys are writing from the heart. They're not trying to be cool, and they're not trying to be profound. Most of their songs, spanning all their releases, are either about being edge or being pissed at someone. Granted we're heard it before, but at least it's honest. These guys don't think they're artists. They don't think they're brilliant. They're regular kids in a band having fun. I can appreciate that.
When I put this split on, I never skip a track. Here's a quick description of DTN's songs. "We're On The Run" has gang vocal parts that will get you singing along on the first listen. Halfway through "Risk It" you'll hear the heaviest bass line ever recorded. "Skate & Annoy Vol. 2" will please those of you with short attention spans with its breakneck speed and total duration of nine seconds. And finally, "I'm So Lucky" slams everything home with a powerful straight-edge anthem that's so good, you'll love it whether you're X-ing up or shooting up. You don't have to be straight-edge to like this band. Good tunes are good tunes.
My first impression of the Kids Like Us songs on here was that they had gotten a little more hardcore and a little less thrash. I don't know if that's true or not, but I got used to it and now I like these songs as much, if not more, than those on their first full-length, The 80's Are Dead. Another problem I had at first was that some parts of some songs sound like some parts of other songs. And there's only three songs if you don't count the cover of "Bad Reputation." I like the change in style though, and grew to not mind at all. After repeated listens they're all distinguishable from each other, and besides, If NOFX can get away with the same song 500 times, I think KLU can write some parts that sound a little similar.
One of my favorite things about Kids Like Us is the vocals. Their singer has this really cool Southern drawl that creeps into his yells every now and again. The fact that their lyrics are generally good doesn't hurt either. The aforementioned "Holy Shit" ends with "I'm the last of a dying breed / kids who gave a fuck, gave up and took leave." I don't know how many times you've felt that way about the music scene in your town, but I sure as fuck can relate from my corner of the world. Moving on, I've got to backtrack a little; I know I just said that KLU write good lyrics, but that's not always the case. Some of their lyrics are great, but sometimes I feel like they're not really putting in the effort. For example: "Mike P. Does Coke," the second song, isn't too strong in the lyrics department. The only message they get across to me is that they like to drink Coke and hang out at the beach. I've heard this before from other bands, and to tell you the truth, I didn't really ever need to hear a Coke comercial from a punk band. Luckily, the music is strong enough to make up for it. Still, it's a bit of a downer. "Synthesizer Nerd" is up next and while I can see some thinking poorly of the lyrics on this one, I've got to disagree. It may be a song about hating an indie rock kid, but when I hear that voice screaming through the speakers, I know that they really hate this kid. And as long as something's honest and passionate, I've got no problems with it. I just can't buy into someone being passionate about cola.
A bit of a recap. DTN are faster and have less breakdowns than they did on their last album. When they do break it down, though (i.e. that middle part in "Risk It") they do it right. These aren't like mosh breakdowns, these are real breakdowns. No chugga chugga bullshit, no double bass, just straight up heavy-ass fucking shit. Heavy-ass fucking shit might not sound like a good thing, but I've got no vocabulary and it's all I'm going to bother myself to come up with.
KLU are heavier here than on their full-length, but they can still thrash when they want to. And those vocals are as good as ever. Every word is screamed out as if it were the last word ever to be spoken, giving all the songs a great sense of urgency.
My only major problem is that both bands leave me wanting more. Luckily, I can always turn to the new full-lengths from the bands, both released this past July.