In their maiden release, Die Young Records has handpicked three bands of different but not totally unlinkable styles to grace a split that bridges seven tracks and roughly 25 minutes. Honestly, Henrietta, Gillian Carter and Echo Base aren’t household names by any means, but that doesn’t make this release any less noteworthy – as it is easy to see the merit with which each of these bands was primed for inclusion on this split. Whether you’re a fan of screamo, alt-rock or semi-twinkled emo, the range of sonic dabbling on this three-way deal isn’t narrow or completely out in left field. Yet, all three bands do enough to make their contributions interesting in a way that while none of them totally trump the other two, it could be said each carry their part of the weight quite admirably.
Henrietta’s opening eight-ish minutes hinge on rock that is razor sharp in its sways between staccato stops and melodically smooth guitars over jangled drumming. “A Spectrum” is aptly named in the movement of such beneath layered, but not stagnant strumming. There’s confidence in this track, even as the introduction pokes through the upbeat, yet almost solemn twang of the guitars. “Blood Wool” hits with more momentum though, channeling a bit more twang sparked by brief lead licks and a noted amount of confidence in not overdoing things to make this the better of Henrietta’s two additions. While not overly flashy, this band’s songwriting chops are more than respectable even as they add and subtract instruments to and from the twangy fray.
Meanwhile, Gillian Carter takes the most abrasive route of the split at times, otherwise dabbling a pit in post-rock fringed screamo that isn’t too adventurous but pretty damn catchy at times. Their minute-long instrumental introduction of sorts (“Always”) tonally translates to a bit of curve in the proceedings, but gives hints of what “Remembering” and “Decisions” do at times when there’s more meat to the guitars and faster tempos to the percussion. However, the other half of this band’s sound revolves around frenzied guitars and vocals that could best be described as the higher-pitched half of The Blood Brothers or The Number Twelve Looks Like You. It’s an interesting concoction on each front, as musically these tracks move with conviction and addiction in the melodies and vocal harping – even if it is a bit unclear what he’s screaming about.
Finishing things off, Echo Base brings a slightly lo-fi, yet quite assured sound to the split as buzzing guitars, off-kilter vocals and non-linear songwriting propel their two cuts, “Launchies” and “Mike Bibby.” The former is ripe with well-placed guitar runs to complement the adventurous drumming and spoken-slash-shouted vocals. It reminds quite a bit of bands like Dikembe and You Blew It! without sounding too similar in the long run. “Mike Bibby” runs a similar game, wandering through impressive musicianship that offers a rather tangential take on songwriting in the process. But for as much as this sound – twinkle, emo, whatever – is gaining traction, Echo Base follows some much-seen conventions in the shouted vocals and strong instrumentation without much of a care in the outcome. It feels very familiar, but still hits hard enough to not feel like you’ve been shorted in the process.
All three of these bands do their own thing on this split, and for what it is worth, it’s all a matter of perspective in terms of what you’ll take away from this. Let’s be clear – none of this is totally mind-blowing material. But for me, this is a good jumping off point for three bands I’m fairly unfamiliar with, all of which show a decent amount of promise in their turn to shine. If that’s not a reason to give this a spin, then I don’t know what is.