“We are Oldtown. Join the riff club.” This is the only sentence in Brisbane four-piece Oldtown’s online bio. After listening to their debut EP, Death of the Party, I can wholeheartedly understand the simplicity of that statement. The punk influenced act really surpass regular levels of energy and provide an exciting sound to ramp up one’s day. Oldtown to me are a pre-drinks band, they’re a pre-anything band. I guarantee if you listen to this release before anything challenging, you will get the task done with ease. Death of the Party gets me so wildly jazzed which makes me think Oldtown are the perfect opener to a crazy night.
With the opening track “Pit Viper”, we are thrown straight into a killer guitar lick followed by a nice hearty guitar riff to carry us through. If I close my eyes, I can actually see the kicks and punches being thrown in the mosh pit around me. There’s so much to unpack from just one track and that is why I love this release; no track is the same throughout, it is constantly evolving to the next sound. I feel like I’m experiencing a year of growth in five tracks. The key thing this track showed me was that I need to take my analytical glasses off, sit back, and just have fun.
This is party music. That’s my criticism, the EP is even titled Death of the Party, but I love it. I love the intention and the product, I’ve given the EP several listens and I’m still very much jamming it. To me, it has to be taken in the same vein as perhaps a Deez Nuts release; nothing against Deez Nuts, I love them but they’re not exactly poets nor are they innovative. These things are all okay, but an EP like Death of the Party, while ridiculously fun, does not fairly compete against the industry’s more serious and ambitious releases. I think as long as Oldtown are at peace with this and aren’t expecting to win awards for their compositions, then we are sweet. Music is meant to be fun and enjoyed, it doesn’t always need narrative nor does it need to make a statement and that’s exactly where Death at the Party sits for me; short, sweet, fun.
“King of the Gutter” hit me next with a very full, in-your-face sound followed by again, some really enticing guitar riffs. The chord progression and wailing vocals in this track actually took me right back to a time in my life where punk music dominated. I was instantly reminded of bands like Fear, Agent Orange, Black Flag, and T.S.O.L. and I loved this. It brought me back to good times, made me want to listen to these bands, but also gave me something new to explore. This track made me feel like being a teenager again and bombing hills with friends, a youthful pleasure now forgotten in the nine-to-five routine.
The similar careless vocal patterns and raw, guttural yelling we hear on “Ego is a Dirty Word” is a prime example of the punk influences I see in this EP. Oldtown clearly have a colourful pallet of taste which makes listening a very fun experience. One minute I’m hearing some mid-eighties punk and the next second, I have a very modern sounding breakdown. I can’t help but want to call this genre ‘callback-core’ as I feel like I’m flying through a time machine the entire time. Many a time went by where I was so lost in this record whilst writing, a track or two would have passed me without even noticing.
“Locked Horns” is unique in its use of cowbell, I believe, as that’s an interesting instrument in this clashing of sounds. In this track, I really think the percussion deserves a mention. The drums absolutely slap, no matter how much I expect it each time, I still get a literal hit to the face with snare. The cymbals work as such good supports for the riffs to flow over and really help tie the track together. “Locked Horns” is the least sonically unique song but as everything we’ve been given on this EP, I don’t really mind. It works as a nice cleanse to prepare for the grand finale.
“The Swindler” gives us a second to wind up and at this point when I close my eyes, I can see the circle pit running laps around me. They don’t give the listener much time to prepare as the flip switches and we’re in for the ride. This is the closest Oldtown have come to an anthem, the catchy verses were prompting a sing along from me within the first listen. The drowned out vocal parts really add to the mood of this track and to treat us before leaving, a guitar solo. While short, it could be classified as a riff, but this solo is killer. It had me exploring my air guitar library for the reprisal, to which I joined in. By the time “The Swindler” ends, I’m ready to take on the world. I’ve had a few records come by that produced a similar feeling from me, but none as physically motivating as Death of the Party.
My one big problem with Death of the Party is clearly, as they’ve shown us with this EP, the party is far from dead. In fact, I think Oldtown have breathed a little bit of fresh air into the party and party music within the heavy scene. Taking myself out of the EP allowed me to fully invest in the release, by not living life so seriously I was able to enjoy this a whole lot more for what it is; for what music is. Music is fun and it’s meant to be enjoyed, either by yourself and with friends. Oldtown allowed me to do all of those things and I’m glad I took the time to give Death of the Party a spin.
Fun mixture of sounds. Very reminiscent of genres passed with a healthy dose of fresh sound. Really full of energy.
Vocals can be a little repetitive at times but quickly aided by a shift in rhythm. I find the idea of a full-length release hard to picture, but I’m open to being wrong.