In the vein of Woah oh oh oh punk, Bouncing Souls are far up there in my list of all-time greats. Menzingers are pretty high on my list of current bands that haven't let my emotional punk roots die. So, I had high expectations for this split when I put it on the turntable. The stunning yellow splatter on thick black vinyl is impressive and the sleeve design is legit, so I was expecting the full package. Also I love when bands cover each others' songs, so this was bound to be my favorite record of the past couple years.
Of course, when you set yourself up like that, you're bound to be let down a little. The Souls side is definitely not life changing. Their original, Blackout, is pretty great, but is relatively reflective of modern-day Souls offerings: It just doesn't stand out. The cover also lacks a punch to make it better than the original. Now, don't get me wrong, these would be fun songs at a show to dance along to and Blackout does a good job of getting close to the last great Souls offering Summer Vacation, but it just approximates that greatness. Even the build to the last sing-along chorus doesn't quite get me as pumped as that trick used to.
The Menzingers open the B-side with a Jersey-feeling rock song that feels pretty standard in format, but is well executed. It's pretty much a punker Gaslight Anthem song about drinking. It's going to take more than standard fare like this to impressed this jaded old man. They follow it up with an excellent selection of a Bouncing Souls song to cover. Kate Is Great is a stellar Souls song and The Menzingers do a faithful job of recreating the greatness of it. Yet, the problem with covers is that if the band does a faithful job of recreating the song, then why wouldn't I just listen to the original? The only improvement is a bit of a change at the end in one vocal line and that's not enough.
To top it all off, apparently the Menzingers side has TWO fatal scratches in it that cause the songs to loop. What a let down.
A1. Blackout Bouncing Souls
A2. Burn After Writing Bouncing Souls
B1. The Shakes The Menzingers
B2. Kate Is Great The Menzingers