By Hands On The Stereo
Hands On The Stereo might not be a household name on these shores just yet, but there's more than enough evidence on this 5-track EP to suggest that this might not be the shape of things to come for the New Jersey quintet. This EP is a wonderful blend of scrappy pop-punk and juddering easycore breakdowns which will appeal to fans of both hardcore and pop-punk alike, and in doing so the band have created a record that is full to the brim with epic summery anthems whose charm will keep the listener enthralled even as winter closes in around them.
The most obvious comparison to draw parallels with Hands On The Stereo would be The Wonder Years; both bands thrive on hugely infectious, bouncy pop-punk, with enough hardcore muscle to hold their own in a now saturated field of pop-punk posers. EP opener 'Ladder Match' is a fast-paced pop-punk roller-coaster of a song, throwing gang vocals, breakdowns and epic choruses into the mix at every opportunity, and anyone dissatisfied with the more rock oriented direction Four Year Strong have taken should definitely give Hands On The Stereo a whirl.
It's reassuring to hear that the rest of the EP lives up to the lofty standard set by the opener, with 'Into It, Over It' and 'You've Never Been To South Of The Border?' keeping the energy levels high for the remainder of the release, and providing fans with plenty of extra material to get their teeth stuck into. Whilst the songs are structured similarly, they never verge on being repetitive, and thus sound as fresh as they did first time round countless spins later. Even Ebenezer Scrooge would struggle to supress a smile whilst listening to this short-player; Hands On The Stereo are blessed with the same penchant for writing happy songs as the legendary New Found Glory, and you sense that they could write an concept album about terminal illness and it'd still be the sunniest release of the year.
Still, it's nice to hear that the band don't put all their eggs in one basket; closing track ''Til Death Do Us Part' is an mostly acoustic, mellow number which is a stark contrast to the rest of their fizzy pop-punk charms. Initially far more melancholy than the rest of this EP, it's a slightly sobering prospect, but rather than being depressing it's merely a deviation which allows the band to show off their songwriting credentials and the fact that they're not the kind of one-trick ponies that so many of their peers are content with being.
In conclusion, unless you're a serial misanthropist or refuse to listen to anything except Slayer, checking out 'Teamwork Makes The Dream Work' would be 18 minutes of your life well spent. Massively endearing without ever bordering on being annoying, Hands On The Stereo have created an excellent example of just how potent a force pop-punk can be when it's not being shamelessly flogged to death by horrifically generic bands such as All Time Low. Honest, genuine and refreshing, Hands On The Stereo are a living, breathing example of why it's well worth checking out the underground scene- refusing to do so should be punishable by law, because it's absolutely criminal to bypass such talent as this lot.