Monday, 19 February 2018

Album Review: Slapshot Regatta by Slapshot Regatta

Slapshot Regatta are a melodic punk band from Ohio. The four piece are influenced by punk bands from the late 90s and early 2000s such as NOFX, Millencolin, Jimmy Eat World, Sugarcult and MXPX. Consisting of Jeremy Van Dress (vocals and guitar), Nathan Satola (bass and vocals), Keith Krysiak (guitar) and Derek Warfle (drums), Slapshot Regatta released their debut self titled album back in November 2017. Here's my take on it.

The album begins with Raised By Wolves. This song begins with some quite sombre guitars before the drums hit and we get treated with some great 90s skate punk. Van Dress's vocals soar on the song, singing with plenty of emotion. The track is about being brought up in a family that you don't feel like you belong in. The next song, Calling Out explores the pop punk side of Slapshot Regatta's sound. There is a lot more bounce in the melody of the track and it will have you happily swaying from side to side before you know it. The subtle use of harmonies on the chorus works well, adding an extra little layer to the song without going overboard. The third track Rewind starts slowly with what I can imagine is a great sing-a-long at a Slapshot Regatta gig before building towards a much more bombastic chorus. The band then repeat this trick for the next verse and chorus cycle. I feel like this song would really be the song that defines Slapshot Regatta to their fans, it's a fantastic pop punk song.

Legendary brings us back to the skate punk world. The track is about the people you grew up with at a young age. Derek Warfle's drums really stand out on the song as he relentlessly pounds his way through the song. There is also a nice throwback to Pennywise's Bro Hymn, another song about losing the people you love, with some "whoa-ohs" towards the end of the track. Stick Around is a delightful melodic pop punk song that gives a bit of rest bite after the skate punk fun. There is definitely a more restrained approach to the song with Stick Around, they can hold back and still craft great music. The track is about staying in a relationship for too long and trying to make it work despite yourself. Half Empty is a ska punk song. What!? This was completely unexpected but also something I loved. I love ska punk. Playing homage to Goldfinger on the track with some brilliant ska guitar during the verse and some big pop choruses, it's a song that had me moving immediately. Half Empty was a really fun change of pace in the middle of the record and shows an extra side of the Slapshot Regatta dice. On my first listen of Run Away I was reminded of legendary Californian punks No Use For A Name, a band who were renowned for the poppier take on the 90s skate punk sound. I enjoyed the more melodic approach on Run Away with the band letting Van Dress's vocals carry the melody of the song.

Last Call To Lose It All is a punchy pop punk song that makes me think about to the glory days of Drive Thru Records, possibly the greatest pop punk label in history? The opening guitars make you think that this will be a heavier sounding song before the vocals come in. The chorus is as you would expect from a pop punk song - really catchy and gives you the urge to pogo up and down. This is just what pop punk should be like. The ninth song, Out Of My Mind, continues the pop punk sound with another catchy and upbeat sounding track. It's about struggling to deal with the tough times in life and feeling like you're losing some control. The chorus of "Going Out Of My Mind, I'm Not Feeling Right" will be really relatable to a lot of people and could be quite cathartic for them. The penultimate song is titled Superlative Flaw. Here we revert back to the skate punk. It really is great to hear Slapshot Regatta playing these two different styles of punk rock and doing both extremely well. It feels as if the band put a lot more of their passion and energy into the skate punk songs and I do find myself becoming more emotionally attached to them. Finally we finish the album with the song Emotional Devotional. The song begins slowly with just Van Dress's guitar and vocal. He recounts a bad time in his life that he wants to forget until things can be made better. Soon enough the full band join him for a fast paced pop punk song to finish off the album.

What I really liked about Slaphot Regatta was how they don't pigeon hole themselves with a particular style and are more than happy and capable of jumping between a couple of different genres, whilst remaining true to what makes them great. This is one hell of a debut album from an extremely promising new band.

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This review was written by Colin Clark.