Another day, another split review. This one is titled Downers and is brought to us by two ska-punk bands - New Jersey's Dead Rejects and Positive Junk from Coventry, UK. Before I stumbled upon the release on Bandcamp I hadn't heard of either band so was excited to hopefully find two new favourites.
Dead Rejects kick off the split. First up is a song named It Gets Worse. This is an intro track which is just some beautifully played piano that leads brilliantly into the second song, Hear Me Out. As soon as the piano finishes we are greeted with some guitar and a huge primal scream. Hear Me Out is a full on hardcore punk rock song - fast, furious and full of anger. It's about the frustration of wanting to be heard. An explosive start to the split. Keep Dancing is a more melodic style. Lead singer Shane Sparacello's vocals are raspy, reminding me of Mark from Boston street punk act The Unseen. They work fantastically on the song which is a great sing-along. It's about going to gigs and how that one night dancing along with your favourite band can make you forget about all the troubles that are happening within your life. Hugely relatable. The fourth song is named Burning Bridges. Burning Bridges is a song of many styles and tempos. Style wise it switches between ska and hardcore effortlessly - being a very skankable tune during the ska before breaking through walls with some devastating hardcore. Burning Bridges tells the story of a friendship that ended in a bad way and then questioning why it happened. "What Happened To You? What Happened To Me? What Happened To Everybody?" sums this up perfectly. The final Dead Rejects song is Lonliness. This is definitely the most ska-sounding song on the Dead Rejects half of the split, with the first verse of the song having a slight pop tinge to it as well. It plays at a mid-tempo pace throughout most of the song, allowing plenty of dancing before building to a big, fast paced punk rock finale. A brilliant song.
Positive Junk, who is actually just one man named Tyler Atkins, starts his half of the split with the song Voices. It starts similarly to the Dead Rejects opening tracks with a slow start before a big scream wakes the track up. Voices is about combating the voices inside your head. It heavily features a ska guitar sound whilst Atkins, like Shane Sparacello, sings with a raspy voice. The song Demons also follows the topic of mental health, starting out with a hardcore punk rock vibe before transitioning into a upbeat ska punk party. I love how the different styles define the different moods of the song. The opening hardcore style is when the song talks about struggling with your demons and feeling like you're losing, while the upbeat ska is played when the demons are beaten. A very special song. Up next is a song going by the name of Leech. More fantastic skacore music here with a little bit of pop thrown into the mix. The "Don't Count On Me, To Let You Know When I Am Down" line sounds like it has been lifted from the Sum 41 track Fat Lip and they really pulled me in. A creative piece of song writing. Listening to Leech reminds me structurally of a pop punk song but with a very, very distinctive skacore sound. It's ace. Positive Junk's penultimate song is called Wasted Daze. Wasted Daze is about being stabbed in the back by your best friend and feeling like you've wasted all of your time. Jumping between bouncy ska and more serious straight forward punk rock seamlessly, it's a fun sounding song even if the lyrical content is sad. The final song on the split is named So Much Worse! This is another beautifully played piano song to complete the split.
Downers is a fantastic split showcasing two quality skacore acts from both sides of the Atlantic. Whenever I think the ska scene is beginning to get short on fantastic bands some more always pop up. Dead Rejects and Positive Junk are another two of those. Check out this split and both bands’ back catalogues.
Stream and download Downers here: https://positivejunk.bandcamp.com/album/downers-2
Like Dead Rejects here: https://www.facebook.com/DeadRejectsNJ/
Like Positive Junk here: https://www.facebook.com/PositveJunk