The Lawrence Arms - News From Yalta E.P. [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Lawrence Arms

News From Yalta E.P. [7-inch] (2014)

Epitaph Records

If you already can't get enough of Metropole and you are foaming at the mouth for more, it may seem obvious, but look no further than News From Yalta. This E.P. has three songs that can easily fit on The Lawrence Arms' new full length. One may pose the question, "Well why didn't they just put these songs on Metropole?" One answer would be, "Well they come on the deluxe version of the album on iTunes," but the better answer is "Don't question it and just listen because this E.P. is fantastic!"

The A-side consists of two songs, the first one being "These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me." Of all the songs (including those on Metropole) this is one of less-gloomier sounding songs and has some very relatable lyrics: "Sometimes I like to lay in bed and pretend like I died/ Sometimes I lay like that til the day becomes night". This song is also pretty self-deprecating and self-questioning, too: "To finally face all the work I still need to get done/To quit being such a pussy". In terms of the musical aspects of this song, Kelly's bass is a little more dominant than usual, especially in the introduction. Neil Hennessy's drumming is also particularly excellent in this song because he plays some great fills that fit in perfectly.

The second song on this side is called "Bonfire Park." This track is where Chris McCaughan truly shines vocally and musically. Like every Lawrence Arms record, when he takes the lead vocals, and Brendan takes the back up vocals, they of course they absolutely kill it (and yes, vice-versa as well), not to mention the great imagery in the lyrics: "There are no days ahead/The sky burns yellow, orange, and red." Also, Chris makes really good use of (what I believe to be) the reverb on his guitar in this song. The effect blends very well with the guitar licks and fills he plays throughout the song, which are creative and really clever. It not only takes a lot of talent to write and play those kinds of fills, but especially so if the band were to play this song live.

The B-side's song is called "The Profiteers." It has a totally different tone musically compared to the other songs. It's much happier-sounding and Kelly's vocals are raspy to the point where they are reminiscent of some of his lead vocals on Oh! Calcutta! What's cool about "The Profiteers" is that it has a very prevalent political and socio-economic message in the lyrics. They are filled with dark and disgusting humor that are aimed at the super rich and/or those looking to make a quick buck no matter what the cost or who or what they hurt: "They're marching on my face/They're dancing on the grave/That I ain't even in and But if it smells like shit and it looks like shit/ Then my friend, you can bet you get rich off it." More importantly, even though there is a message in this song, they didn't write it in an obnoxiously preachy way. Bands have a tendency to do that, but not this one. After listening to the two previous and more serious songs, it's really nice that they ended this E.P. on a note that has a serious overtone mixed with some lightheartedness and humor.

Note to my fellow vinyl nerds: This 7-inch was pressed in two different colors – 800 in translucent orange and 1200 in black.