As much as I have enjoyed the chaotic tuneage turned out by Amherst's most brutal shoegaze band over the past four years (I believe that All Our Tomorrows End Today can legitimately be described as a msterpiece of modern hardcore), they had the tendency to do split releases with bands I was, at best, lukewarm about. The untouchably unique, inventive four-piece seemed to have the tendency to pair themselves with bands that don't quite get me excited in the same way (excepting Death to Tyrants's contribution to the four-way split live 11"). This problem dogs the band for me significantly, as eight of their ten releases to date are splits.
However, when I saw this record under No Idea's "coming soon" section, I all but shat my pants. Ringers has strutted their stuff over the course of two full-lengths prior, and I witnessed them rage an inspiring house show last summer with similarly-minded-but-other-coast This Is My Fist and Ampere. The stronger tracks on the more recent LP, Detention Halls, hinted that Ringers have the potential to be considered the east coast, DIY version of Rancid (plus a few dozen IQ points). It doesn't hurt that the group has long-standing and impressive punk credentials in the form of "ex-members of" tags.
So that Rancid comparison I dropped in reference to the newer Ringers material? These qualities are especially evident on the one song that graces their side of this record. One of my roomates pointed out that the structure of the chorus bears a remarkable resemblance to "Corazon de Oro" by said East Bay pop(ular)-punx. It's simply a catchy, upbeat, anthemic punk song with gritty vocals and an anthemic chorus. Nothing altogether too challenging takes place, but Ross and Justin's lyrics really shine. Like most Ringers (and, again, a lot of Rancid) songs, it seems more a collection of clever turns of phrase that reflect a certain lifestyle and attitude than an attempt to convey a specific message. In the world of punk rock, subtlety can be hard to come by, so it's nice to be able to interpret a song as you will and relate it to your own life. The tune's powerful culmination is a repeated shout of "let me go!," then it's time to flip the record and give Ampere a whirl.
If you have heard Ampere before, then it won't surprise you to know that their single track runs about a third as long as Ringers'. It opens with feedback and then explodes into the highly technical brutality that they've built their name on over the past few years. It begins in what for them qualifies as the mid-tempo range, but the listener only barely has a chance to get acclimated to this before many switch-ups take place. Will Killingsworth of Orchid is an incredibly proficient guitar player, and his antics are as impressive as ever. Meghan's bass in Ampere acts more as a rhythm guitar, which is fine by me, because there needs to be something to anchor the rest of the music to Andy's insanely complex drumming. The band utilizes so many odd time signatures and tempo changes that they do as much in the minute that this song lasts for as most hardcore bands do on a side of an LP. Stephen continues along the lyrical themes he's hashed out in the past, seemingly referring to a failed relationship. I would actually place his imagery and writing for this song above that on some of their other recent records and on par with the lyrics on the (aforementioned, phenomenal) All Our Tomorrows 10". See if you can catch the Jawbreaker quote in the lyrics (it's actually not very hard)!
It seems that I wasn't the only person to highly anticipate this record, as the first pressing of 1100 sold out in about a month. No Idea intended on it being the only pressing, but since there is such vigor stirred up over these two bands, they're repressing it as a regularly-sized (and therefore less exciting) 7". If the music I've described sounds like something of interest to you, it's probably worth getting your hands on a copy sooner rather than later, because the second pressing is just as likely to fly off No Idea's shelves. I'd cautiously say that Ringers "won" this split, as they did more to further their sound on it ("Dial Tones" may, in fact, be my favorite song they've written to date), whereas Ampere stuck to their tried-and-true formula. However, if it ain't broke, not a lot of need for fixing it, especially if you're one of the most innovative hardcore acts in a long time. I fully endorse this record, and the people and ideas involved are worth your support and attention.