By: Erik Rojas
As much as I like to make fun of New Jersey, I have to give it props for the music it has been putting out as of late. Man Overboard, I Call Fives, the list goes on. I recently got my paws on Hands on the Stereo’s new EP Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, a five-song onslaught of what they call “hardcore pop-punk.” Translated into layman’s terms, that basically means Four Year Strong/A Day to Remember-core. Being a fan of both of those acts, along with being aware of the numerous bands that claim the same genre, I was initially afraid the EP wouldn’t maintain its own originality. Thankfully, I was very wrong.
Hands on the Stereo has their own flavor. Right off the bat the band throws you into “Ladder Match,” a song with a circle-pit-worthy tempo, but the happy-go-lucky and melodic voice of front man Chris Cunha keeps the atmosphere light and easy to listen to. What you think is going to turn into a stereotypical breakdown, right around the forty-second mark, becomes a sweet-sounding hook, complete with aggressive drum and guitar work. The gods of pop punk wouldn’t have it any other way. Catchy little guitar riffs here and there keep the tune from being predictable, which is always a plus. Towards the end of the track, one solitary “woo” signifies the start of a gang-vocal ridden bridge. Calling this section of the song “energetic” would be an understatement. The open and muted guitar chords paired with the feeling of brotherhood you get from the vocals will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. “Ladder Match” is a solid tune.
“You’ve Never Been to South of the Border?” is another standout on this brief record. Starting off with a heavy riff, the song soon becomes melodic and harmonious, with solid dual-guitar work to match. Quick-paced drums keep the energy high, creating a cool duality with Cunha’s mellow, somber vocals. The chorus of “I never want to go home” is one that resonates in the soul.
I’m glad I got my hands on this EP, and I’m also glad that good pop punk is still being made. Hands on the Stereo is the perfect blend of aggression, melody, and fun. This EP definitely makes up for the bubble-gum stuff Four Year Strong has been putting out lately. Don’t just download it, buy it!
Release Date: July 5, 2011
Record Label: Unsigned
For Fans Of: Four Year Strong, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years
Recommended Tracks: “Ladder Match” // “You’ve Never Been to South of the Border?” //