The New Rochelles/DeeCRACKS – The Smile Of The Tiger [EP]

The idea of a split record is a formula which has stood the test of time in music today, due to its simple principle of exposing new music by each artist to the other’s fan base, thus (in theory, at least) increasing the following of both in one fell swoop. Although through time we have seen examples of larger, more established artists releasing such records – the example of Linkin Park’s “Collision Course” collaboration with Jay-Z springs to mind, albeit as an album of remixes, not split tracks – this trend is most common amongst smaller bands like those two artists featured on this release, The New Rochelles and DeeCRACKS.

Both artists make themselves known as pop-punk bands, although joyously, both seem to lean more towards classic punk traditions than the haircuts and skinny jeans of today’s scene (and yes, fellow folk-troubadour lovers, that was a Frank Turner reference). New Yorkers The New Rochelles band members are listed on their Facebook as Ronnie, Ricky and Rookie Rochelle, in a beautiful throwback to the Ramones, while DeeCRACKS, hailing from Klagenfurt in Austria – which just may be my new favourite place name – simply keep their last initials (coincidentally all C.) in place of surnames, while listing their style of music as “rock’n’roll played fast, like The Ramones”. The influence of the legendary Blitzkrieg Bop-pers is clear amongst the music of both bands, and with the entire 4-track split clocking in at exactly 8 minutes, the term “fast and furious” is not an understatement when discussing the songs contained within.

First up comes the shortest track on the whole record, the New Rochelles’ 1:17 wonder “Cuidado”. However, in proof of the old adage of good things coming in small packages, this is an absolute gem of a track. While there isn’t much variation in the lyrics, even for a short song like this, it is instantly catchy, and the music behind is pure pop-punk wonder, created specifically to get a crowd bouncing or a listener air-drumming in less than a second. A simple refrain of the line “Not your amigo” provides a catchy singalong ending before the track crunches to a halt as quickly as it begun, making way for the second of the two New Rochelles tracks, Nightcrawler. An even more pleasing offering than the opener, this track (yet another pacey track, coming in at 1:25) forcibly reminds one of a Dookie-era Green Day song, which is frankly fabulous news for any pop-punk outfit. The simple repeated lyrics and bouncy backbeat are a joy to behold and frontman Ronnie’s vocals are a perfect fit for this style of music. Although their entire offering on this release comes to a grand total time of 2 minutes and 42 seconds, they leave enough of a lasting impression in that short time that I implore any readers to keep an eye out for this name in the future and snap up anything they have to offer – trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

The record is then turned over to DeeCRACKS to finish off in style. The change in personnel is instantly recognisable. DeeCRACKS play with a harder, heavier edge, complimented by singer Matt C’s rough, throaty vocals. Their own personal opener, 2-minuter Let’s Get Outta Here, is a cracking tune, with just enough time afforded to it to create a couple of verses shaped around a simple but purely irresistible chorus, and despite the throatier growl of Matt’s vocals compared to those found on the earlier side of the EP, it is listener-friendly, crowd-pleasing stuff, pulled off with some style. Somewhat disappointingly, considering the fact that the bands only had two song slots each to fill, DeeCRACKS choose to finish with a cover of the band that seems to keep popping up in this review, playing a version of The Ramones’ “She Belongs To Me”. While the cover is a nice little idea considering the band are the biggest inspiration for the Austrian three-piece, I can’t help but feel the slot would have been better filled by an original composition to better advertise the band’s skills – while this is by no means a bad cover, this is a truly legendary artist we are talking about in the Ramones, and cover versions of big artists like this are perhaps better left for longer, single-band EPs, or even maybe a full-length album, rather than shoe-horned into this release. However, DeeCRACKS still provide a good impression of their talents in pulling the cover off and their one original song on the record is enough to leave the listener wanting more.

Overall, this release does exactly what it is meant to do – shows off the talents and capabilities of both artists and leaves the listener eager to hear more. While maybe The New Rochelles could have benefited from a slightly longer song being included, and DeeCRACKS could definitely have done with going for two original songs, this is still a great release and one I would heartily recommend to any fan of the pop-punk genre. Watch out for these names in the future, and if they come to a town near you, go see them; if this EP is anything to go by, you will not regret it.

4 out of 5 high fives!