Against the Tide [EP]

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Orange County's Melee debut with this brief, bright Hopeless EP. Their label and peers might be trading heavily on punk-pop, post-hardcore, emo, or uncharted variations of all three. But this combo is closer in sound and song construction to fellow Golden Staters (and youngsters) Rooney, or even Ben Kweller -- their Against the Tide is bold and fizzy pop/rock with a slight alternative tinge, song-based and dominated by vocalist Chris Cron and the keys he shares with guitarist Rick Sanberg. The big '70s vocal and crashing piano line of "Routines" reminds somewhat weirdly (for a band on Hopeless, anyway) of Procol Harum's "Conquistador," while "Bells" is the requisite modern rock anthem, all chugging, exuberant guitars and triumphant chorus. Best might be the opener, which begins with a contemplative piano figure and light guitar strum before Cron's vocal comes in to follow the swelling percussion into a chorus worthy of Rivers Cuomo. Besides, "Mestizos Love Song" is a great song title for a record that looks like it was decorated with art recycled from a yellowed thrift-store romance novel. Melee's eventual full-length should be really interesting.

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