Brendan Kelly/ Sam Russo - Split the Tip [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Brendan Kelly / Sam Russo

Split the Tip [7-inch] (2014)

Red Scare Industries

The Split the Tip EP is pretty different than what Red Scare Industries typically releases. It features two acoustic tracks by Sam Russo (accompanied by Martin Everett on drums in both songs) on the A–side and two acoustic tracks by Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms on the B–side.

Sam Russo's first song, entitled "Small Town Shoes," starts out with a guitar lick that sounds a lot like something John Denver might have written. Actually this whole song has a John Denver–esque sound to it, but the lyrics aren't uplifting as John Denver's. Russo's are aimed toward letting go of the negativity that life can attract: "It doesn't mean a thing to me/They'll say what they say/Whatever I do and wherever I drink/She meant nothing to me." His other song on this EP is called "Crayfish Tales." It's darker lyrically and sonically than "Small Town Shoes," but Russo's voice has a lot more feeling in this one and it's filled with great lyrical imagery like, "I guess the fire in my soul just needed a poke/You took the poker with both hands and you gave it a stoke."

On Brendan Kelly's side of this 7–inch, he contributed a new song called "Frangelico Houston" and the song "Pigs," which is an acoustic version of The Lawrence Arms song "These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me" off their News From Yalta EP which was release earlier this year. "Frangelico Houston" is also a pretty dark–sounding folk song. Kelly seems like he might have been emotionally conflicted when he was writing this song because on one hand one of the lines in this song is, "Now listen close to everything, then listen close to me/Nothing ever really sets you free," while on the other hand another one of the lines is, "Ain't got no one to send these goddamn boner pictures to." He truly left me stumped me with the way these lyrics were written even after listening to this song several times and reading and re–reading them. They're pretty random. Perhaps the fact that this song was named after the Frangelico liqueur has to do with the message. Compared to "These Pigs Seem to be Getting the Best of Me," "Pigs" is purely acoustic and Kelly's voice isn't as raspy as it is on News From Yalta. It also seems like "Pigs" was recorded at a live show because you can hear the crowd a little bit throughout the song. Other than those small differentiations it's basically the same song lyrically and musically.

The Split the Tip EP is a fan piece for those who absolutely love anything that Sam Russo and/or Brendan Kelly put out. It wouldn't be fitting for someone new to these artists (or even Red Scare for that matter) to start out with this EP. To those new fans, check out Sam Russo's Storm and The Lawrence Arms and Brendan Kelly's side project, Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds. Split the Tip isn't one of the most outstanding and most original–sounding recordings of the year, but it's different and it's good for those who already love these artists.

You can stream "Pigs" from this EP here.