Classic blue may be the new black, but “Creature,” Old Old’s latest EP, is the new (new) bar for punk releases in 2020.
An emo punk band hailing from Harrisonburg, Virginia, Old Old is known for their high energy shows and genre-blending style akin to bands like Brand New. The group was formed in 2019 by Andrew Simpson (Vocals / Guitar), and now includes Jackson West (Lead Guitar / Vocals), Zachary Simpson (Drums / Vocals), and Livingston Brown (Bass). Truly a DIY-based band, Old Old progressed as each member did their part: “Zach would run around Harrisonburg with his buddies, tagging spots with our name. Jackson was attending shows and making friends, as well as telling every damn person he met to listen to the demos we put out on BandCamp.” All the while, Andrew had “been booking us shows, a tour, mixing, editing, and mastering the EP from my basement apartment.”
Once their EP was finished, Old Old released “Call My Mom” as a single in early January, and received a much warmer reception than anticipated. The resulting shows pulled in over sixty people, and was “the best show we’eve ever played.”
The first track of Creature is “Skreamer. ” Bringing us into the EP with classic punk guitar lines and energy to spare, the song shows off the spaces between notes as much as its inherent rhythms. “Skreamer” is guided through its 3:30 running time by bouncy bass and dynamic percussion, every instrumental part falling into line to create a solid, steady song, even without vocals in the first two minutes. When the vocals do enter in an edgy mix of distorted whispers, the track is given extra depth and atmosphere, making it a great start to the record.
The instrumental introduction to “Call My Mom” is one of my favorites from Creature. Springy, pop punk guitar tones and upbeat percussion mix underscore the vocals beginning at 0:50, the smooth vocal tones revealing a story in the lyrics: “My broken mind can’t seem to decide / Was that you outside my room last night? / Kids always blame it on a chemical reaction / Honestly you never really left my mind / I suppose my lungs have given up /
I can’t seem to stop pushing my luck / It’s really not your fault but it’s my well being /
So let me be and I’ll let you sleep.” Although “Call My Mom” is the longest track of the album at 4:07, it never becomes boring or overly repetitive.
The guitar of “Grassroots” is much grittier and harder than in previous tracks, matching the darker tones of the vocals. Harsh cymbal hits punctuate the background of the instrumentals, emphasizing the track’s steady rhythms. The vocals could be a bit more polished and tuned, but they fit the band’s DIY aesthetic in their graininess. While not a stand-out of the record for me, “Grassroots” serves it well as a middleman to transition into the next part of the EP.
“Bowling” is intense in its instrumentals, bringing forth a storm that is soothed by smooth-yet-strong vocals. The track moves through different moods and tempos, allowing the dynamicism of the instrumentals to guide the wave of sound in a flow of energy. Similar to “Grassroots” in its aesthetic, but more aggressive and unapologetic, “Bowling” steps it up in technical ability of the vocals and instrumentals alike for the second half of the EP.
“Montana Vibe” begins with ambient instrumentals, its more relaxed nature allowing the vocals to stand out without losing any energy. After two faster-paced tracks, “Montana Vibe” serves as a refresher for the ear, allowing listeners to really get into each little part of the song. A spoken word section at the end of the song brings out its individuality even further, making “Montana Vibe” one of the most well-done and unique tracks of the EP. Reminiscent of From Indian Lakes and Copeland, “Montana Vibe” could have its place on an emo playlist, but also an indie one–an aesthetic that is valuable and unique in the music industry.
“Maturity” is the final song of Creature, and the shortest. Off-beat percussion and acoustic guitar are bright below emphatic group vocals, making “Maturity” a fun, goofy track as it dissolves into coughs and laughs. Proclaiming that “I am never, ever gonna die,” “Maturity” is the perfect way to sign off the album while still promising more to come from Old Old.
Old Old’s plan for the future includes rescheduling their tour for Creature, releasing an album next year, and putting out another single later in the summer. “At the end of the day we’re not going to rush ourselves,” vocalist Andrew Simpson says. We’re going to keep writing the best songs we can and enjoying the f*** out of music.”
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