Let's face it: Since bands like the Movielife and Latterman have ended their influential pop-punk reign, Long Island has yet to seen somebody bring something fresh to the table (sorry Patent Pending, but no thanks).
That has yet to change until now; brace yourself for the Tomahawk Chop, four dudes from Long Island who have something to prove. Their new self-titled EP is the culmination of two years of vigorously playing bowling alleys, basements and anywhere in between on Long Island. Influenced by bands like pop-punk legends Saves the Day, hometown heroes Bomb the Music Industry! and new-wave pop-core dudes the Wonder Years, these guys have created some catchy-as-fuck anthems that only established pop-punk vets have been able to create recently, and they have done so with a sound of their own.
These heavy-hitting songs are only further amplified by the extremely awesome/catchy lyrics, a key factor in melodic pop-punk that seems to have been lacking lately amongst a shit-ton of bands. Anyone can play power chords and sing randomly generated bullshit. These songs as a whole have craft, and obviously more thought was put into the lyrics than just writing about girlfriends and yelling over music in any kind of rhythm. Anyone who gives this CD a listen can definitely tell that these guys actually put some heart into their music, which seems to be harder to come by as more and more bands seem to only be concerned with the "internet" aspect of their band. This EP is a breath of fresh air in a struggling scene, where only a few select bands across the country seem to be doing something worth giving a shit about.
The EP opens with "Rosehill," a song that will seem a little drawn-out only if you are anticipating the rest of the songs you know are coming up on the album. I've seen these guys at shows for the past two years, so knowing what tracks were going to be coming up, my finger was itching for the next track button. However, with a little patience, and a little tolerance for 6/8 in punk rock, you can really enjoy this song and what lyricist Dan Clemens has to say. Lyrics like "spend four years / dreaming of four more" can bring anyone back to the glory days of being in high school, anxiously waiting for the weekend and not being able to get anything done except figure out how you're getting to the show that Saturday and who you're going with. For all you bearded grandpas, don't be skeptical of these guys...they may be younger but that doesn't hinder any aspect of their music for a second.
The next track is the driving and locally well-known "Antoni." This song needs no description because it kicks dick. End of story. Every song of this album has a hook lyric, so to quote every song would be redundant, although it feels almost necessary. If you ever saw these guys live and witnessed the pile-ons that took place you would understand why it feels unfair to leave any lyric out of the album review, but to spare you, I'll keep it brief and let you decide on your own.
What needs to be mentioned is the complete change of pace on the album in the medium paced Lifetime-esque song, "God Bless New Jersey." The band shows their maturity going somewhere that more bands need to go. At the same time they show how diverse their songwriting can be, making sure they're not just labeled as another generic "pop-punk STD rip-off band." The song rocks hard, and will have anyone jumping up and down in a basement with no regards to the ceiling until they fucking crack their head, which unfortunately happened to me last time I saw these guys play.
Another great thing about this album, although possibly not completely intentional, is the way these songs came out recorded. Recorded completely by bassist/great person Tom "FUCKING" Kelly in his own home, the songs carry a distinct sound that vary from the average cookie-cutter Auto-Tuned pop-punk sound. The dirty sound of the guitars and the heavy-natural tone of the drums make these songs hit even harder. New addition and drummer Dan HIllier keeps these songs on the fast side and keeps the energy level of the music high, which is a relief to many older fans of the band. It gives the songs the edginess it deserves, and will keep you swaying your head throughout many of the songs.
The EP closes with your new favorite song, "Penny for My Thoughts." Once again, I feel like the song really deserves no explanation and just a listen, but then what the fuck is the point of reviewing good music? Fast drums, catchy vocals and a great chorus. What else does a great song need? Oh yeah -- honest, young, and genuine lyrics:
Shit storms keep falling on my head / I can never catch a break / 16 going on extinct / And in just one weekend, I have managed to destroy myself / Throwing everything I have believed in out the window"
Give this album a listen and you will be impressed; give it two listens and you will fall in love with this band. What's even greater is that the whole EP is streaming on their MySpace right, now so there's really no reason to not give them a chance.