Mixtapes / Direct Hit! – split 7″
Today, a quick review! Here’s a split 7″ with a fun, semi-traditional punk rock premise: two bands, two songs, one of the two songs being an original tune of their own, and the other being a cover of the second band’s original tune. Pow! So two different versions of the same two songs for your ears.
Hailing from Cincinnati and Milwaukee respectively – oh, that’s the length of England apart, Google Maps fans – Mixtapes and Direct Hit! both play fast-paced pop-punk. The main differences are that Mixtapes make use of female/male vocals and harmonies whereas Direct Hit have two male singers and make use of keys. The latter in particular seem to like powering straight ahead into “punk rock anthem” territory, which I dig so let’s start with them.
The two tunes are ‘Werewolf Shame’ (by Direct Hit!) and ‘I Was a Teenage Poltergeist’ (by durrrr). The former, as performed by its writers, is a driving tune with trading vocals in the verse and an anthemic chorus that’s predictable but still pretty rad. There’s some nice well-judged soloing as the song builds to a breakdown, followed by some awesome/hilarious/cheesy chanting. It’s fun, is what I’m saying, a proper party tune (for the theoretical punk rock party I never seem to go to, where people don’t complain about power chords and demand Captain Beefheart). The same song as performed by Mixtapes doesn’t change the song’s structure overly much although the verse is sung by just their female singer, and the chorus is stripped down in places and Direct Hit’s punk rock soloing isn’t matched. The breakdown is more sweet than cheery, thanks to some hushed vocals and no chanting. Overall I prefer Direct Hit’s take but Mixtapes do a good job of making the song their own.
So, on to Mixtapes’ ‘I Was a Teenage Poltergeist’! My favourite part of it is actually the simultaneous but different vocal lines, a trick that can work really well when done properly and Mixtapes get it right here thanks to how distinct their two singers are. It’s a fast-paced song without any particularly great hooks but the vocals and lyrics really carry it. Direct Hit’s take on the song is more faithful than Mixtape’s cover of ‘Werewolf Shame’ and while they do a decent job nothing about it really jumps out. On the other hand, they shouldn’t feel too bad since for my money ‘Werewolf Shame’ is the better song.
Man, music is goddamn fun, isn’t it? Even more so when it’s you and your friends. With that in mind, here’s the endearingly goofy video the two bands have put together for this release. Behold the least convincing band rivalry since Radon burned that church down and Bad Religion wrote them a really stern letter*.
Direct Hit: Bandcamp
Label: Kind of Like Records
* This didn’t happen, obviously.