Jake McKelvie and The Countertops have teamed up with Worcester, MA’s UH-HUH to release a self-titled split seven-inch. The record features two unreleased B-sides from JM&TC’s excellent 2014 album Solid Chunks of Energy as well as three previously unreleased tracks from UH-HUH. Short emphatic songs are the glue that holds these five songs together; only one song clocks in over three-minutes, a rollicking and swift moving jam from Jake McKelvie. “I Was Right” features much of the endearing lyricism that has distinguished Jake McKelvie over their past two albums and an EP. McKelvie has carved himself a niche as a songwriter, combining a rapid delivery with stream-of-self-consciousness writing in a manner so singular that it is never in question whose songs are being played. This is partially because of McKelvie’s distinctive delivery, a sort of upper-register howl that is at various points alarming, convincing, charming, empathy-demanding, and every where in between. As “I Was Right” chugs along, an Americana-esque snare drum pattern jumping alongside, McKelvie sings “I was right, I was right, I was right” in such a way as to make one believe him unequivocally. “The March Song” shines in a wry fashion, cuttingly precise both musically and lyrically, and the stand-out lyrical moment of the split comes in the form of: “all the teen fiction that hasn’t been written, recites itself each time I speak”, synthesizing an important part the JM&TC aesthetic appeal better than I could ever hope to do.
UH-HUH’s contributions differ from the sonically clean JM&CT side of the record. The opening track on their side “Cryme Dog” is a blissfully distorted minute and two seconds in which no expense is spared. There are riffs and spacier riffs, both battling the blast drumming for their spot in the recipe. “Slyme Man” seems like the b-section of “Cryme Dog”, perhaps slightly more melodic but with entirely the same ethos. Smashed together they make a deceptively well crafted pop song, and apart they play off of each other in the same manner that leads to entire albums that could be one long song with different movements and lyrics spread throughout. This gives a tidy sense of coherence to UH-HUH’s side of the split, and the final song “Useless” is no departure. The length of the other two combined, “Useless” wanders into the realm of pop-punk. The chorus of, “Am I useless? what am I still doing here? I don’t know who I am,” is sung without melancholy, instead with a healthy sense of trust that this is exactly where the singer Charles Emerson needs to be. It becomes clear at this point that the two bands on this split belong together.
You can stream both sides of The Jake McKelvie & The Countertops / UH-HUH split below. The 7″ is available through both of their bandcamps.