Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Album Review: Split by Two Houses and New Junk City (by Emma Prew)

You probably know that we love a split release here at CPRW. It’s often a great opportunity to check out one new band while also supporting one you already know and sometimes they cover each other’s songs too which is always pretty cool to hear. That’s exactly the case with this four track split on Rad Girlfriend Records featuring Two Houses – a band that’s new to me – and New Junk City – a band I know and love. They each have one, I assume, brand new song as well as a cover of one of the other band’s tracks.

Two Houses take the first half of the split. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the band, they describe themselves as a reliable rock ’n’ roll band and are a trio from Chicago. Southbound And Down opens with a jangly guitar riff before the volume and distortion levels are ramped up when the vocals come in. There’s a rawness to the song and the vocals that reminds me of Tim Barry of Avail. It’s a fairly fast paced and short song, at only just over 2 minutes in length, but Two Houses still manage to fit in a guitar solo in the middle of the track. Up next is Snot A Problem which is a cover of the opening song on New Junk City’s 2014 self-titled album. The original is fast paced and quite an angry sounding song – which is understandable given the lyrics (‘You come in the door at 3am, You’re drunk as fuck and screaming at me again.’). Two Houses slow their version down somewhat and, rather than obvious anger, they simply seem resentful and bitter. It’s dark and almost grungey sounding and the band also add some fine harmonised vocals that drive the story of the song home all the more.

New Junk City are a four-piece punk rock band from Atlanta. I had the pleasure of seeing them live at Hamburg’s Booze Cruise Festival last summer and their set was one of my highlights of the whole weekend. Sticky is the name of their original song on the split and it wastes no time in getting going. Upbeat from the outset, the track immediately gets my head nodding. There’s a catchy riff threaded throughout the song but it’s the vocals and lyrics that really stand out to me. I’ve always thought vocalist John has an incredibly distinct voice, it’s got a sort of Americana or Bluesy twang it that works so well with the band’s fast paced and melodic punk rock – I love it. The Two Houses’ song that New Junk City cover is The Fear from their 2016 album I Feel So Good I Can’t Stand Myself. Having not listened to Two Houses prior to this split, I did quickly check out the original so that I could properly compare the two. The obvious immediate difference between the two is that New Junk City have included an audio clip at the beginning of their version but, after that, it is perhaps slightly more upbeat than the original with some slightly fuzzy guitars bringing a warmth to the track. It’s a super catchy tune and the layered vocals towards the end – which are more distinct than on the original – are brilliant. This is probably my favourite of the four songs.

I perhaps wouldn’t have thought to check out a slightly grungey rock ’n’ roll band such as Two Houses before but I’m glad that I have now thanks to this split. Both Two Houses and New Junk City have contributed great stuff here and I would recommend checking out both of their back catalogues out – starting with this split.

Stream and download the split on Bandcamp.

Like Two Houses on Facebook here and like New Junk City on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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