I am a dweeb. The easiest way to get a laugh out of me is with a well-placed pun. Therefore, when given the opportunity to review a band whose name is a nod to Game of Thrones, and whose album name is a great pun, I could not resist. There was no way I would not dive head first into the pop-punk world of Beyond The Wall and their May release E. P. Phone Home. (I know, the word play is just fantastic!)
“Between Us” provides a solid opening to the Canadian trio’s album with a fast paced melody reminiscent of some of Blink 182’s finest songs from their debut album. This track is mixed some serious ‘Billy-Joe Armstrong-esque’ vocals and a deep, audible bass line two-thirds of the way through the song.
Beyond The Wall’s signature sound is a healthy sonic concoction heavily influenced by bands that used to fill the Vans Warped Tour lineup year after year between 1998 and 2006. It is one part Guttermouth, two parts pre-Nimrod Green Day, one part Blink 182, with a dash of Fenix Tx, all mixed in the Boston shaker of music.
I ended up having to do a double-take after the second song blasted in my earbuds. “Scrotus” is not bad in any way, shape, or form, but it is completely different from the opening song. In “Scrotus,” half the vocals are harsh, the drumming is erratic, and it is fifty-seconds of concentrated intensity.
The Ajax-based band did not shy away from any pop-punk clichés. All of them were there; the breaks in the music to let the bass shine, the power chords, the “outtakes” of the band members yelling and swearing, the obligatory slower song (Beyond The Wall’s contribution to this pop-punk tradition is named “South of Warden”), and the catchy-as-cooties song that stays stuck in your head long after you have moved on. That song, the one with the repetitive chorus, is named “Waste Your Time With Me” and I found myself cleaning the dishes while repeatedly singing the asinine line “with a loser like me” five hours after first listening to the album.
It is impossible to get rid of it.
E.P. Phone Home (I am forever in love with the name of that album) sounds like a compilation album that the guy in cargo shorts outside a skate shop booth at some punk festival would have been handing out. It is a mish-mash of different punk sub-genres with the same signature undertone throughout its entirety. Every song sounds like it was recorded by a different band, yet the mix of all the songs together is strangely cohesive and pleasant.
The album might not earn the band a spot on the next big punk rock tour, and they might not make the cover of Alternative Press tomorrow morning, but E.P. Phone Home is a fantastic way to spend twenty-five minutes. Or seventy-five if, like me, you cannot resist playing it three times before you decide it is time to do something else.
Written By Kai Robidas
*edited by Danielle Kenedy