Maserati / Cinemechanica / We Versus the Shark

Three Way Split

(Hello Sir; 2004)

By Amir Nezar | 10 October 2007

(Kind of) fresh off the release of the pants-on-fire Ruin Everything! from the endlessly promising We Versus the Shark, fledgling Hello Sir! Records expands their exposure with three highly talented artists on this three-way split EP. Carrying two tracks apiece from Maserati, Cinemechanica, and We Versus the Shark, the EP makes a strong case for the upstart label’s small but potent lineup. Most of the EP treads math-rock territory, but makes plenty room for melody and dagger-sharp hooks.

Maserati fall fairly firmly in a math-post-rock vein, alongside the likes of The Coma Lilies and Turing Machine, as do cohorts Cinemechanica – but both usually trump their peers in terms of songcraft and impact. We Versus the Shark (as per my review of them at the end of last year), still prove themselves to be in a dancepunk league of their own, with one brand new song, “See Carolina’s Fastest Trees,” and a reprise of “This Graceless Planet,” an fine highlight from Ruin Everything!

Maserati is the most ostensibly calm band of the label’s lineup, and in some ways, their compositions are the least ambitious --- very measured, and highly polished. Their execution, however, is flawless, and their melodies are often serenely beautiful. “Towers Were Wires,” builds into a deliberate deluge of melodic hooks as the group’s three guitars weave a sweeping set of riffs together atop some superbly understated, highly complex drumming. But rather than let merely pretty guitar-heroism carry their song, they switch gears about halfway through, pulverizing one of their axes into a roaring effects-thrashed Loch Ness monster that terrorizes the notes and chords of its companions. “Asymetrical Threats,” home to even more jaw-dropping drumming (Jerry Fuchs --- whose efforts are far better served here than on Turing Machine’s lineup --- is phenomenally versatile on his kit), is more restrained than its predecessor, but no less well thought-out. It builds a fucking mountain of tension in its final minutes that sticks to melody and resists what seems an inevitable explosion --- to somewhat “aw, where was the explosion” effect, but it’s an admirable, unexpected move. It cuts off a bit unexpectedly, but not to any damaging effect.

Cinemechanica, on the other hand, are positively brutal, and stand out thunderously, as though they were making up for the restraint of Maserati’s tracks. “The Professor Burns Vegas” is a balls-out destructive force of a song that nonetheless incorporates a surprisingly delicate interlude of melody and hooks. But its multiple cathartic releases are ferocious stomps of dual-guitar, incinerating riffs, which, at breakneck pace, still manage to tackle some nifty fretwork. “I’m Tired of Paul McCartney” (click to hear) not only wins points for its cheeky title, but makes The Mars Volta look like a pack of mewling babes --- it may very well be the EP’s strongest track. Not only does it effortlessly smash several phenomenal hooks through your torso, it fucks with its own dynamics with ridiculous aplomb, switching time signatures so confidently it would make a lesser band (and most bands are, compared to these guys) cry.

We Versus the Shark’s previously unreleased track, “See Carolina’s Fastest Trees,” continues the EP’s great ideas, doing Drive Like Jehu better than Drive Like Jehu, with filthy riffs and guitar figures, not to mention some occasionally sick guitar-destruction. It occasionally suffers from an overbearing density of noise that doesn’t quite bridge their more clearly defined, better ideas. But it also represents an ambitious move away from their sprawling, confident dance-punk patchworks. “This Graceless Planet,” of course, can’t help but close the EP in terrific style with its unforgettable hooks and the best dancepunk conclusion written in recent memory (this, oh Busta Bus’, is how you really light asses on fire).

That there’s hardly a weak moment --- and never a stale one --- on this EP, despite its three-way division, makes the prospect of future releases from this label’s lineup a mouth-watering one. If you’ve been complaining about the bore of over-technical, heartless math-rock, this is your EP. If you still think dancepunk doesn’t have a decent torch-bearer, this is your EP. If you care at all about ambitious, fiery, forward looking rock, then Hello Sir! has but one thing to say to you: paying attention. Or else they’ll kill you with their guitars.