Buddyhead offers up here a split EP/DVD combo set featuring Los Angeles acts the Mean Reds and Wires on Fire. Each band gets an orignal and a cover song apiece on the compact disc portion with a live set each as well on the DVD offering. For the most part this definitely seems like a "for fans only" type of release, but it definitely has its moments.
Everywhere you go, you'll run into Germs comparisons when reading up on the Mean Reds. And each comparison is well-founded, as the Reds bring to the table the same apathetic, slurred, slowly regurgitated vocals and a dirge of dirty, distorted and completely oversimplified three-chord guitars of L.A. punk. However, the Reds get a bit more noisy, like a grindcore-less Locust; on their two offerings here, the band is a bit less spazzy than their usual material, instead relying on its strange conglomeration of understated electronics, but their punk roots are definitely in the clear. Their "Minor Threat" cover is relatively faithfu--okay, so things get a bit bizzarre in the middle with off-key guitar swaying and pseudo-Mexicana trudging, which is the only way my limited mind can describe it as. It's also pretty interesting to hear the band's Germs-style vocals re-introduce the straight-forward finish of the track that makes for a creative interpretation of the title song from some founding hardcore punk fathers.
Wires on Fire offer up the Stooges-influenced romp in "Million Dollar Maybes," a guitar rock track that makes up the original portion of their contribution. Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" is the cover of choice here, and that classic's theme of rebellion and freedom feels revived here, but not in a modernized way; it seems faithful with the singer screaming the song's title desheviled but freed, and hey, at least he isn't trying to sing like Cher. The saxophone is a nice touch, too.
As for the DVD, we get healthy live sets from both bands. Both are shot without a whole hell of light and the audio is somewhat poor, but you definitely get a good idea of what the bands are about in their primitive setting. "Openers" Wires on Fire thrash around for seven rock'n'roll songs, while "headliners" the Mean Reds entertain their fans with all sorts of half-drunken delight. TMR plays their set half-naked with the singer getting down full for two songs, and audience participation is most definitely encouraged; for singing some parts and, well, matching the physical appearance. Things get a bit GG-like with the singer slicing his stomach at one point, and it makes for even more shame and/or confusion than shock value, but at least they're having fun? Right? I think?
This split may not offer much in the featured audio department length-wise, but what's there isn't shabby, and the video companion makes for some extended time-killing. While I'm not entirely sure I can recommend this to outsiders, fans of either band should be at least fairly pleased with what's coughed up on this little package.