Various - across the water (Cover Artwork)


across the water (2001)


"a collaboration of music from sweeden and canada"

Before reviewing this disc, perhaps a bit of recent history is in order. In May 2000, Layaway Plan was on the Boardfest 3 cross-Canada tour with Swedish bands Astream, Adhesive, Misconduct and another Canadian band whose name I can't think of right now. The story goes that the boys in Layaway Plan became friends with the guys from Adhesive and Astream. Around September, Smallman Records reported that they were planning on releasing a three-way split between these three bands. Being a fan of all three of these bands since the Boardfest tour, I was thrilled. A few weeks later, Choke was added to the line-up. Choke was already one of my favourite bands, so I was estatic when I read this. Three songs each from four great could you go wrong? As soon as I could, I sent my $12 in the mail for across the water and waited patiently.

And now for the actual review. Out of necessity, I'll review each band's contribution independantly.

First up on the split is Choke. Once again, they provide something completely unexpected. They've redefined their sound once again. It's not as big a leap as they made from Needless to Say to Foreword, but it's definately something new. Styleistically (is this a word?), it is similar to Foreword, but they've taken a slightly different direction in songwriting. It is still undoubtedly Choke, and Choke fans will definately like it. The third song, "blackmarker" is a Screw 32 cover. It's obvious it's not a Choke song, and is in my opinion, one of their weaker songs. Overall, however, a very strong contribution to the split.

Following Choke is the Swedish band Adhesive. Their contribution disappointed me, not because of the quality of the music, but because they brought nothing new. Two songs, ("it ain't right", and "safe reality") are taken from their newest album We Got the Beat. People not acquainted with Adhesive have nothing to worry about though. These two songs are great straight-ahead punk rock, with some great hooks and sing-along lyrics, and "safe reality" is a highlight on a cd full of highlights. The third song, "johnny too bad" is a Slickers cover. Yes, this is new Adhesive material, and yes it's a good song, but to me, there's something less than authentic and "brand new" about a cover song. Again, overall, a very strong contribution. We're two for two so far.

After Adhesive, we take a jump back to Canada for Layaway Plan. At the time this was released (late Jan. 2001), Layaway Plan was the only band to provide three completely original songs (remember, both Choke and Adhesive had covers). I say at the time it was released, because a month later (early March 2001), Layaway Plan released a new full length album, with a different version of "absence". For those unfamiliar with Layaway Plan, they play what's been described as a punk-metal hybrid. For those familiar with the band, you get a new sound anyway. From Addictive to Force of Habit to this, Layaway Plan has gotten progressively harder and seem to have perfected their sound. Very technical & complicated songs with many time-changes. "only the strong", "everything to lose", and the aforementioned "absence" are three great songs, forming yet another strong contribution. If you're keeping score, we're three for three so far.

To round out the disc, we take a leap back across the Atlantic to Sweeden for Astream. Since releasing their last album (Good Times/Bad Times in early 2000), Astream has gone through a minor line-up change, having lost a guitarist. For their three songs, they slowed their sound down a bit from their previous material. Two brand-new songs "annoying" and "ii", and a remake of "the hammer comes down" from Good Times/Bad Times, which, far as I can tell, is simply played a bit slower and keyed a half-step lower. In terms of technicality and difficulty, there's not much to say about these songs. They are, however, very good. Mid-tempo skate-punk with good hooks and simple but effective solos. Can't go wrong here...another strong contribution.

Adding up the score, we have four bands, four strong contributions. I can't find a weak spot on the whole disc. Good bands, good songs, good production, good value ($12 ppd), even the CD case design is pretty cool. Inside the spine (a la AFI) is written "över havet", which, I can only guess, is Swedish for "across the water".

I can't recommend this CD enough, regardless of whether you're a fan of any or all of these bands, or haven't heard single song by any of them. Keep up the excellent work Smallman.

A few side notes: Astream has since unfortunately broken up, and this was their last recording. Also, (this is only speculation on my part), the title of the album may have been taken from an older Adhesive song "Scent of Life" which had a chorus of "let's leave, across the water, I got to get, I got to get out of here, across the water, to widen my horizons..."