I remember a while back when I went to the It’s A Kling Thing house to check out a band from Cincinnati called Mixtapes. Yeah yeah, call me that guy, but it is only fair. You see, a bunch of my friends who were well aware of what Mixtapes were about early on told me told me I needed to see them live and I am glad I listened to their advice.
The pop-punk foursome impressed me immediately with their ever so likable songs that clearly were written on the pure basis of fun and personal events. I remember everyone crammed in that tiny basement singing along and rocking out to some of the catchiest songs I had heard in a long time. I told myself back then that they were going to be going places soon and meant it 100%.
Mixtapes have always had songs that were written to be witty and as close to their hearts as possible making for a very personal listen. To top that, they are super best pals with bands like Direct Hit!, Wonder Years, House Boat, and countless others. They are friendly folk too and never seem to have mosh shorts to sell when I visit them at their merch booths. Quick to crack a joke and incite a smile, this band is always fun to listen to and hang around.
Fast forward to present day and here I sit typing out a review of their new release on No Sleep Records and I have to admit, I excited to be able to talk about it. Even On The Worst Nights is not their first release, but has shaped up to be their most important release to date. The band, who started writing tunes in 2010, has released a bunch of songs that can be found on various 7″s as well as for free download on the Internet. (Don’t believe me? CLICK HERE.)
Starting off Even On The Worst Nights was “Seven Mile”, a 54 second song that pretty much defined what the band surrounds themselves with: lack of friends, long days, small town life, and not a care in life. “Something Better” followed kicking things into gear with a pop-punk anthem of sorts. This song without a doubt will be a sing-a-long. I loved the lyrics “we sat outside talking about movies and music we hate cause there’s not much left to life.” Seriously, it is almost as if this band gets me.
The album title track really sounded like it was aimed at all the punkers out there that have been there and done that. Upon listening to it more though, it is clear the song recalls many of the issues the band has gone through getting to where they are today.
“You & I” was a slow starting ode to a special friendship that ended with a bang in less than a minute. “I’m Wearing The Device (Bridge, Water)” carried the typical personable Mixtapes lyrics I was hoping to hear with the band questioning themselves if they are good enough to continue.
My favorite track on the album easily was “Russian House DJ”. Perhaps it was because of Maura and Ryan’s back-and-forth-vocals throughout or maybe just because it reminded me of all the pop-punk I listened to over 10 years ago. Call it poppy or maybe even emo, all I know is that it was good and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
“Anyways”, featuring Grath Madden of House Boat, threw in jabs to nameless opponents (aka bands) for the sake of hilarity. The group vocals helped make for a good listen as well as lyrics that threw out Mixtapes’s definition of life. “I represent my city but not my scene” was sung with complete honesty proving that this band is all about the music and nothing more than that.
The drum-pounding intro to “One For The Ozarks” was perfect for the high energy track that was almost like a confession from the band admitting to change. Change or not, the song was likable with high and low points as well as a clever ending. “Just When You Thought It Was Over” was a punk rock jam that grabbed my attention in a good way. This song really showcased how much the band has matured as musicians in the past 2 years.
The duet “Golden Sometimes” had Ryan and Maura singing together with help from acoustic guitars and piano. It was a track that really brought back bad memories of relationships of my past that never went to plan. Once again, a certain level of emo-ness could be heard making for a very memorable song.
During “Basement Manners”, Maura took over on most of the vocal duties making for a great track to rock out to. “Mt. Hope” ended the album with the song sounding more like a conversation between good friends. Soupy from The Wonder Years actually contributed some guest vocals during the final track of the album.
I really enjoyed Even On The Worst Nights and know I will be adding this album to my daily playlist for some time to come. The songs overall on the album carried a Mixtapes standard sound I was expecting, but my only vice was that it seemed like Ryan got more attention vocally than Maura did sans “Basement Manners”. I would have preferred both vocalists to be on the same level, but it was not the end of the world. Mixtapes have definitely released a solid album that is going to be getting a lot of attention in a short amount of time.
The band that used to place basements and small stages better get used to some wiggle room, I know these guys (and gal) are going to blow up this year. If you have not heard of Mixtapes yet you really need to fix that and if you have not seen them live yet, boy are you missing out. They tour non-stop and chances are good for them hitting your town sometime this year. First things first though…they are playing the UK in August. Not too shabby for a band that just passed the 2 year mark.