Caleb Lionheart - Think Hardcore, Play Pop Punk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Caleb Lionheart

Think Hardcore, Play Pop Punk (2008)

Farewell Party

I first recieved Caleb Lionheart's Think Hardcore, Play Pop Punk as a limited edition CD-R in late 2008. A few weeks later, it reappeared in my mailbox (well, on my doorstep, really -- it came in an LP mailer) as a bizarro CD/cassette/screenprinted artwork combo. And just to make things more confusing, it's being released this month on a one-sided 12". Pretty ambitious effort by their label, Farewell Party.

Musically, the band is a little confusing, too, since the EP's title is a slight misnomer. It probably leads listeners to think they'll be treated with the same style of 21st century hardcore-influenced pop-punk that could give you something as good as Set Your Goals or atrocious as Four Year Strong. Caleb Lionheart reside somewhere in the middle (success-wise), but don't really conform to either side.

Instead, Caleb Lionheart take an undeniable influence from defunct punks and fellow upstate NY-birthed Marathon, with an Aaron Scott-ish vocalist and cognitive abilities miles ahead of the average pop-punk band. "I've felt strong dislike but could never hate anything that bleeds, no matter what race," says Tony Bucci in opener "Adrenaline." "'Cuz even with the promise of amnesty and a loaded clip, I couldn't just pull the trigger and not give a shit." "Rules of Attraction" is an age-appropriate anaylsis of college students dealing in cheap love.

Despite that clear social awareness, they've still got an inherently poppy flair, but it's one that usually succeeds because it's never too cutesy. "Home," despite its Marathon-ish bridge, sounds a bit like mid-era Lagwagon -- another influence Caleb isn't afraid to champion -- as does "Keep Time, Lose Track."

Though Caleb sound a little too amateur on much of this EP to really make the intended impact, it's some really promising stuff. The guitars are crunchy enough, their melodies are compelling enough and the thoughtfulness of their lyrics is pretty refreshing. Shit just needs to gel a little more, something that could very well happen on their third straight EP coming out in the spring, Climbing Up a Mountain Just for the View.

Think Hardcore, Play Pop Punk EP