Junior Battles - Hotel Bibles (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Junior Battles

Hotel Bibles (2009)

Black Pint

As a product of the Toronto area's vibrant punk scene, the members of Junior Battles spent their youth moving up through the ranks of veterans halls and tiny bars. The result is a group of men playing melodic pop-punk with the confidence and experience of long-time scene contributors.

Hotel Bibles may be a debut effort, but the EP reeks of experience. What's great about it is that rather than queuing up behind Blink-182 and New Found Glory's pop-punk lesson book, Junior Battles have crafted their own style from the likes of Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music and Green Day. They've seemed to end up in a movement of bands such as the Ergs!, Bridge and Tunnel, Lemuria and others in developing a new brand of melodic punk -- and it's something worth getting excited about.

The album is short, with six songs clocking in at just over 15 minutes. In that time, though, Junior Battles cram as many hooks and gang-vocal choruses into each song as reasonably possible. But it's all balanced with vocal melodies that are as much Sunny Day Real Estate as they are anything stemming from their three-chord predecessors.

Junior Battles' best songs are their longer ones. When they allow themselves to pass the three-minute mark, they are able to better explore the diversity in their sound. "Boats," "Will and Words" and the title track have a more complete feel than their shorter counterparts. Meanwhile, "Decades" and "We're Not Coming Down" can only be faulted because they end too soon.

It'll be interesting to see where Junior Battles go from here. It's clear that the band knows what it's doing, and Hotel Bibles is great as a sort of experimentation into what they want to do with themselves. I'll be waiting for the LP, but in the meantime will be enjoying this short package. You should too.