When you get an email from a band from Belgium who describe themselves as "not your average punk rock band. Picture Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four and Pegboy hanging out in a dive bar" it really makes you want to check them out. That's exactly what I did and it proved to be a wonderful decision. The band in question are named Rich Widows and they are a five piece who formed in 2017, in Mechelen. Back in April they released their debut EP titled Half-Empty Glasses And Despair. From that title alone I'm sure you can guess the theme of the EP.
The EP starts off with the song Wrong Direction. As you might expect from the bands mentioned above, this is classic mid-tempo gruff punk. There's a warm, whiskey fuelled raspy vocal, a rumbling bass line, melody driven guitars and a pounding drum beat. It's not reinventing the wheel but it's also really hard not to get swept up by the song. I think this is mainly due to the simple and catchy line in the chorus of "we are heading in the wrong direction" which gets the gang vocal treatment. The second song, Faceless, sees the tempo pick up and with that so does the urgency. The track wastes no time in getting going at all with the vocals coming in immediately. They are given the job of carrying most of the melody for the track as the guitars and drums rip through the song at some speed. I really enjoyed the urgency of the song, it made me feel like the band are really passionate about what they're singing about.
The Fighter was the real stand out track on my first listen of the EP. Beginning with a grumbling bass line before we get into a gang vocal heavy section. The vocals are delivered in a way that is crying out to be sung along with. Unfortunately, due to the production quality, the vocals are quite hard to make out but it doesn't stop me wanting to throw my fists up in the air with the band. The penultimate song is named Like Tennessee and it's another stand out track. Pace wise it's quite speedy but also feels like the song that has the biggest hooks. Again I just wish the production was a little clearer so I could get fully invested into the song. I particularly enjoyed the song's ending which features some great guitar riffs along with a melodic and passionate vocal. Last up is the track Motel Room. I was really hoping that Half-Empty Glasses And Despair would go out with a bit of a bang and it certainly did. The track starts in a melody driven manor before building towards a big gang vocal chorus. I do love me a gang vocal chorus – I may have said this a million times on this blog. After a few listens, I think that this is probably my favourite of the five songs. The overall sound of the track resonated more with me and left me wanting more.
Despite a few issues with the overall sound and production of the EP, this is an incredibly promising debut from Rich Widows. They clearly have a knack for writing a good hook and this is the kind of gruff punk that I, and many other people, adore. I'm intrigued to see how the band progress in the future.
Stream and download Half-Empty Glasses And Despair here: https://richwidows.bandcamp.com/
Like Rich Widows here: https://www.facebook.com/richwidows/
This review was written by Colin Clark.