Author: Ian Morgan
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5 - Nofx / Rancid (2002 - BYO Records)
I think everyone knows what they are going to get when they put on a Nofx or a Rancid album. Both bands have earned their stripes and have extensive back catalogues. This split does not offer the best work from either band, however, it does offer some of their best songs through a different lens. With Nofx covering Rancid songs and Rancid giving Nofx songs their treatment. Hits like 'Bob', 'Stickin in my Eye', 'Radio' and 'Olympia WA' are all here. The whole record is really great fun and worthy of your time.
4 - Mom Jeans / Prince Daddy / Pictures of Venom (2017 - Counter Intuitive Records)
This three way split has an awesome title, 'Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 420', and also has awesome songs from three up and coming bands popular in emo/indie rock scene at the moment. All three bands are writing some of the best music around right now, and it is showcased brilliantly on this record. They are all different enough to keep it interesting, but share enough similar characteristics to make the record play through as a coherent piece. Mom Jeans are the highlight for me, but I've asked a couple of my friends and they each said one of the other bands. It shows just how strong all these bands are, and how the songs on this split connect with people.
3 - The Casket Lottery / Small Brown Bike (2014 - Run for Cover Records)
Two criminally underrated and highly influential bands come together, possibly to mourn the fact that the bands they have influenced are making more money doing what they do in a less meaningful and less interesting way.
On this split, the two bands actually collaborated on all of the songs, with Small Brown Bike writing music and Nathan from The Casket Lottery singing on them, and vice versa for the arrangements constructed by The Casket Lottery sung by Mike Reed of Small Brown Bike. As well as some full songs from the bands, that were all written in tandem, and a cover of Under Pressure (not the Vanilla Ice version).
This split is a wonderful, and rare, example of band collaboration and the whole record flows so well from start to finish, almost as if it were an EP written and put together by an expert producer. You may not have heard either of these bands before, but you have definitely heard the bands that steal from them. Check this record out and explore their back catalogues for some undiscovered gems.
2 - Touché Amoré / Pianos Become the Teeth (2013 - Deathwish)
The shortest split on the list, but it's two songs will cut deep, as they are deep cuts.
I was recently listening to an interview with Jeremy Bolm, the lead singer of TA, who said that split and compilation songs were a chance for bands to take risks, experiment and largely try new things that they wouldn't attempt elsewhere. Touché Amoré did exactly that here, where they stepped away from their traditional formula of songs that ripped for a minute and a half and abruptly stopped, leaving as quickly as they entered. Like a gut punch directly to the feels. Their song, 'Gravity, Metaphorically' is the first time I heard them attempt a longer song with more uniquely distinct sections. On their albums following this split the adopted this tactic more often, as they do it so well here. The closing section of this song is a thing of absolute beauty, as the music strips right back and Jeremy starts screaming, in his unique style, 'It was the first time, in a long time, that I felt alive. At least I tried!'. Jaw-droppingly good.
'Hiding' is straight up my favourite Pianos Become the Teeth song. The lyrics are awesome - There’s no good in your eyes anymore. And it makes you want to drive home, drunk and alone. Curse the faces in the wheat. Drown yourself in the gold because you can’t let it go. Makes you almost miss the smell of smoke in your clothes'. The arrangement is awesome. It is just an incredible song from a band at the top of their game.
1 - Alkaline Trio / Hot Water Music (2002 - Jade Tree Records)
This split was written and released just before Alkaline Trio dropped arguably their best album, 'Good Mourning'. It was on this album that the signature Alkaline Trio sound became fully developed and where they reached the apex of their writing, in my opinion. This Split was heavily sign-posting the incredible record to come with the Trio hitting it out the park with each of the brilliant songs on their side of the record. 'Queen of Pain' and 'While You're Waiting' are still amongst the best Alkaline Trio songs ever committed to tape. The writing is magnificent, the lyricism - masterful and the performances - mesmerising. This release, their first with drummer Derek Grant, is truly the sound of a band firing on all cylinders and committing everything to tape, leaving nothing behind on the studio floor. Their side of the split is completed by a cover of Hot Water Music's, 'Rooftops', which is also phenomenal.
As with Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music were not far away from releasing 'Caution', which is one of their most popular and best releases. The track list of which, includes classic songs like 'Remedy' and 'Trusty Chords'. On this split they also offer an insight of what is to come, with some incredible writing of their own. 'God Deciding' is an amazing track, delivered with such passion and intensity it makes you want to scream along even if you don't know the words. The sort of song that will wrench guttural roars from you to the tune of the melody. The vocal interplay is a thing of genius. In addition to another original song, 'Russian Roulette', HWM also cover two Alkaline Trio songs, the highlight being a stripped back version of 'Bleeder', that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. Chuck Ragan at his best delivering the lines as if he wrote them himself.
Ian Morgan is on Twitter: @IanMorganFBC