Epic Problem – Lines EP
The 90s were a brilliant time for punk compilations – as a teenager getting into punk music in the early 2000s, I found myself quickly giving up on the Punk-O-Rama’s and Give ‘Em the Boot’s being put out at the time and delving into earlier issues. While these compilations dipped a toe into the mainstream via Rancid, NOFX and the like (while still remaining brilliant, don’t get me wrong…well, at least until the 4th or 5th release by either series’), TKO threw together some awesome, angry and harder to come by releases under the title of Punch Drunk. These focused heavily on rough and ready street punk, ideal drinking music which also, while the media was calling any old shit with spiky hair and guitars skate punk, was picked up on by the SF based skateboarding company Deluxe and used as the soundtrack to actual, balls out skating rather than hanging out by the Corn Exchange wearing Bernie’s jeans and a fringe. I write this only because it seems a perfect starting point to talk about midlands-based punks Epic Problem, who have just released a four track EP called Lines and who would sound right at home on one of those classic compilations, taking those anthemic sounds but created something more intricate and dare I say mature sounding – I guess the opposite way to approach describing their sound would be to evoke Leatherface but with more drive and anger.
The record turned up on my doorstep a couple of days ago, resplendent in blue splatter vinyl and with stickers thrown in (I fucking love stickers), and I haven’t really stopped listening to it since – it is a perfect soundtrack to skating down the street, cheering up a stressed girlfriend or drinking wine dead fast because fuck it, you’re celebrating Wednesday. A clearer sound quality than previous releases does full justice to the four tracks, with a Scrooge level tightness to the musicianship backing up a gravel-voiced vocal which conveys a sincerity and passion you ain’t gunna hear in the charts any time soon. Some carefully placed harmonies add to their sound nicely, especially the ‘whoooaa’s’ which open ‘Sink’ and bring to mind the Bouncing Souls way back when they were good. With alumni from the Dead Subverts and Blitz being involved in this group it was never going to be a half-arsed job, and this definitely shows a band going from strength to strength. Whiskey-flavoured icing on the cake is a cover of the Beltones’ ‘Weak’, bringing me back round to the Punch Drunk comparison and giving some love to one of the Bay Area’s finest exports, fucking quality! I’m looking forward to checking them out live ASAP, as this is damn fine drinking and dancing music.
By Jono Coote