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The Disconnects/Crazy & The Brains - Are On The Other Side

Rock and Weirdness out of New Jersey

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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The Disconnects/Crazy & The Brains - Are On The Other Side

Are On The Other Side

Baldy Longhair Records
Last year's release ...Are Healthy from New Jersey's The Disconnects was an amazing, powerful record, the sort of thing that easily commanded near-constant rotation around here. A new band that fully embraced the '77 punk sound of bands like Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders and The Stooges, their raw intensity was refreshing, taking me back to the first time I was blown away by those '70s-era punk bands. It was a record that quickly gained the top of our list of the best music to come out in 2011.

Having the release on Baldy Longhair Records was even more perfect. A cassette-only label out of the same state as The Disconnects, Baldy Longhair is trying to bring back audio cassettes as the next analog format. And for those of us without tape players, the cassettes also come with a download code, so that one can easily pop that tape into the old iPod as well and press play.

But even with an album as great as ...Are Healthy, you reach a point where you've listened to it 400 or 500 times, and you just want... more. More songs. More by this band. It's a trap that happens often, and you're left waiting it out for the next album, which may or may not be very good.

But the Disconnects are apparently either polite or prolific enough that they didn't want to make me wait too long - for a few songs at least. Just a few short months after the release of ...Are Healthy, they're back with Are On The Other Side, a split 7" with Baldy Longhair labelmates Crazy & The Brains.

Now I'm not going to question why a cassette-only label is putting out a 7" for multiple reasons. I'm happy enough to be hearing new Disconnects songs, I dig vinyl and like the cassettes, Are On The Other Side is also available digitally, for those of you without any sort of turntable.

So then, taking it out for a spin, what do we have?

As far as the Disconnects go, it's really more of the same.

And I mean that in the best possible way. In like an "Oh my god, this is great, it's more Disconnects songs!" kind of way.

The three tunes they offer up ("Wake Up Dead," "Parasite" and "Destroyer") once again bring forth solid raw punk rock that sounds scooped from the '70s and dumped into a beer-soaked alley behind a smoky club just in time to open the back door and shove it all on stage for the entertainment of the sweaty throng.

It opens with "Wake Up Dead," a solid and raw rocker that makes you immediately want to curl your lips in a sneer and pump your fists in the air. And like with ...Are Healthy, the band is relentless, pulling you back under in a sea of rock and roll every time your try to grab a breath. It's an overwhelming feeling, drowning in a downpour of rock and roll swagger. "Parasite" channels the raw power of the Stooges (no pun intended) and "Destroyer" feels a bit more skate punkish, like it was plucked from the West Coast, like something the Adolescents may have come up with back in the day.

The other side is composed of three tracks by Crazy & The Brains, labelmates and statemates of the Disconnects. But that's where the connection ends, because the two bands are completely different.

Crazy & The Brains play upbeat quirky punk with a serious hook. And a xylophone. It's bizarre and fun, with xylophone adding a reeling riff (to xylophones play riffs) that would be perfect for a circle pit, albeit a goofy one. In fact, I really get the impression that the songs are composed in such a way that the xylophone part could easily be replaced by a guitar and it would be a competently energetic punk tune, but it wouldn't be as much fun. It's a bit like an analog version of Atom and His Package, as well as a touch Ramones-y, but just a bit sillier, if that's at all possible. Then my feeling was readily made apparent with the closing tune, the band's cover of the Ramones "Oh Oh I Love Her So," which paid tribute to the feeling of the original without simply being a goofy spin on it.

The pairing between these two bands on one platter works incredibly well, because it doesn't work at all. The only cohesion between the two acts is that they each bring their own thing. The Disconnects bring the rock, and Crazy & The Brains bring the party. The two don't match, but they go together. It's like having a party where evryone brings the chips, and nobody brings the dip. It's flat and while it can be satisfying, you may recognize something's missing. With this party, Crazy and The Brains bring the dip, and everyone goes home satisfied.

Track Listing:
Side A: The Disconnects – "Wake Up Dead", "Parasite," "Destroyer"

Side B: Crazy & The Brains – "It’s Alright," "NYC," "Oh Oh I Love Her So"

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