While Community Records has been around for nearly seven years, they really made their mark in 2014, with powerful releases from the likes of Caddywhompus, World’s Strongest Man, Sirens, Sharkanoid, and many more. For Hex Records, they’ve acted as a stronghold in the punk and hardcore scene for over 15 years now, doubling up Community’s label life. But the two came together to end 2014 on a strong note, with their four-way split between Ex-Breathers, Ovlov, Woozy and Gnarwhal.
Musically, this 4-way split features four prominent, upcoming bands in the east coast and south experimental math/noise punk scenes. Each band slays, with sounds ranging from noisy punk to “introspective indie.” The intensity and explosiveness of each band is to be expected from someone well versed in the scene, however the Ovlov track did catch me off guard, shifting in sound from the catchy driving ’90s guitar hooks to a mellowed out jam session. Somehow it still fits.
Ex-Breathers kicks the split off with a bang, shoving angular riffs, quick tempo-ed drums, and Fugazi-esque vocals in your face, all packed into three songs not lasting more than 6 minutes total.
Ovlov begin round two with a stoner-esque rock ballad, confusingly honing in the sounds of Harvey Milk and Queens of the Stone Age — an odd departure from their usual shoegaze-infused punk sound. Though, I’m still left scratching my head, they pull the new sound off well, and leave me wanting more.
Woozy starts off side B of the split with fuzzy math-rock akin to a mixture of Minus The Bear and Wavves, but also self-referencing Fugazi and The Cranberries as influences.
Last but not least, Gnarwhal end the split with two spazzy polyrhythmic songs, perhaps some of the most complex music featured on the split.
This record was played on a Denon DP-300f turntable using a Shure M97xE cartridge.
Each band’s tracks translate well to vinyl; compliments to a fine mastering job by Bill Henderson at Azimuth Mastering. No noticeable pops, cracks, skips or other imperfections can be heard and the volume and dynamics seem just right.
This release is housed in a standard full color single pocket jacket with a small red hand cut insert. The print job on the jacket was a bit sloppy, with some prominent geometric shapes misaligned, though being familiar with production, I’m sure it’s no fault of the labels involved. The design work of Garrett Smith really brings the release together, with abstract vintage imagery and a pleasant color scheme of almost a cloudy sky blue and a sandy reddish pink. The vinyl is pure black and the labels feature the same shade of blue as the cover, but with a shiny metallic silver ink, which is a nice touch.
For a reason not quite understood by me, both sides of the record are labeled side “B.” I like the risk taken with their decision to do it that way, but my fiancée begs to differ. No download code is included, but a free download is very generously offered on Community Records’ website as stated on the jacket.
The record in full. With any split, delicate attention is placed to the track listing and presentation. For the full effect, listen from front to back and you’ll be glad you did.