- The Silent Mile/Sounds & Scenarios, The Silent Mile/Sounds & Scenarios
(JCH Records, CD and digital)
Are you ready to feel the raw emotion of being dumped? Ready to scream into the void because your ex sucked so much you had to trash your bedroom? It's emo time! Hoodies have been stolen and promises broken. Welcome to Emotional Wreck City, population: two very sad bands. It's the Silent Mile/Sounds & Scenarios brand-new split EP!
The Silent Mile are the home team on this release. One of the most angst-ridden pop-punk acts on the local scene, the Burlington band leads off this collaborative record with two high-octane songs: "Better Days" and "A Promise Is Forever."
"Better Days" is a dark but deceptively jaunty rocker. Bassist Conrad Beckmann* sings, "I'm fucking crazy, but not in a fun way / Got no quirky rom-com eccentricities / Just insecurities and self-hatred / Go ahead, ask anyone I've ever dated." It's a startlingly frank song about the urge to hide one's depression while needing to keep it together to operate in society.
The band recently added a second guitarist, Meghan Burke. The twin Telecaster attacks of Hunter Phelps and Burke fill out the new songs in more sophisticated ways than in the band's previous arrangements, adding layers of melody and grit at once.
"A Promise Is Forever" is more paint-by-numbers emo than the first track. A clever guitar lick opens the tune, and the rhythm section of Conrad Beckmann and Tyler Jackson comes thundering in with force. But the song itself is a slog. It's essentially a five-minute mea culpa to a partner but lacks the lyrical intelligence of "Better Days." Phelps pleads "A promise is forever" just waaaaay too many times.
The Silent Mile are, as always, impeccably tight and dynamic. But I'd say they shoot 50 percent here.
Next up is Massachusetts outfit Sounds & Scenarios. Despite stylistic similarities between the two bands, Sounds & Scenarios have a more modern take on the genre than the Silent Mile's faithful brand of pop punk. "Kick the Clock Off the Wall" and "I'm Sick of Crying Over You" feature programmed drums, slickly distorted guitars and anthemic vocals. They also feature a rather large-size chip on the shoulder of singer-songwriter and Vermont native Tyler Chase.
"You can't fool me with your trendy hair / To somehow make me think you care / You're no princess, you're just another curse," Chase bellows on "Kick the Clock Off the Wall." The lyrics are a little cringeworthy, as are some Chase shouts on "I'm Sick of Crying Over You."
The band's distinctive sound is impeccably produced. After playing for years with a full band, Sounds & Scenarios are now a two-piece featuring Chase and bassist Avery Jones. Hopefully, now that clubs and bars are opening for shows again, Chase and Jones will get the gang back together and hit the stage, because it's clear how good these tunes would sound live.
The Silent Mile and Sounds & Scenarios are fine examples of their genre, though both also carry some of the shortcomings associated with emo — namely, juvenile lyrics that are weird to hear belted by grown adults. Still, the energy of the EP carries through all four songs, and it's hard not to pump your fist at least a few times.
The Silent Mile/Sounds & Scenarios split EP is available on CD and for download at jchrecordsnh.bandcamp.com.