With a sound which just seems to get more essential and invigorating with every proposition, South Africa based hardcore punk band The Old-timers release not one but two new EP’s to stir up ears and thoughts. Featuring four tracks each, Turn It Off and Turn It Up explodes in ears with the now renowned Old-timers sound and faith bred lyrical contemplations looking at today’s issues, but both and especially Turn It Off come entwined in fresh twists and captivating hooks, evidence of the band’s continual growth.
Consisting of Cape Town vocalist Dave Emerson and Port Elizabeth hailing guitarist/bassist Donovan de Necker, who live twelve hours apart, and recently new drummer Phil Harris who also plays in Boise punk band False Idle, The Old-timers have previously made a potent and increasingly attention grabbing impact on the global punk scene with their releases, debut album Soli Deo Gloria in 2012 their first thick temptation though the band had already lured ears and appetites, including those of Thumper Records with the Not Dead! Nor Are We! demo. They have been followed by even stronger encounters earning matching increases of acclaim in the shape of the Spiritus Sanctus and Be Reconciled EPs of last year. Each encounter has pushed the band’s old school inspired hardcore sound fuelling minimalistic but impassioned explosions posing as songs forward, and no surprise that both the new EPs follow suit, providing some of the best tracks to come from the band simultaneously.
Turn It Off opens with the sturdy tempting of Untouchables; riffs and rhythms a nagging lure from its first breath as Emerson brawls with words. Little changes as the song broadens with tangy grooves and twisty hooks aligned to gleefully jabbing beats, that niggling quality an inescapable anthemic lure firing up voice and sound around. It is an excellent start to the EP, matched by the volatile energy and accusing nature of Televangelist. It too is ripe with gripping rhythms and delicious hooks, and a slim but open vocal variety which alone captures the imagination.
Featuring the alluring voice of The Lead’s Ninah Llopis, Homeless Friends steps forward to steal best song honours across both releases, her siren like tempering to the roar of Emerson emulated in the melodic and fiery exploits of de Necker on both guitar and the moody bass. With scything strikes from Harris adding to the drama, the song brews a stirring antagonism which never quite explodes but gets under the skin wonderfully, especially when flirting with the extra spice of Llopis. As much as the music has moved on again from the band, lyrical prowess has too, songs seeming more concise and impacting in that aspect with this a prime example.
The encounter closes with the intimidating Crowns which from its opening heavy and imposing resonance of bass, has ears and imagination in the palm of its hands, and though it subsequently breaks into a more expected hardcore like accusation and aggressive stance it carries plenty of unpredictable hooks and twists to offer something newly enticing.
Second EP Turn It Up reveals a street punk energy and tone with its first track Broken Glass, the song a more restrained but no less aggravated and energetic proposal to those upon the companion EP. For less than a minute and a half it ignites air and appetite before the drama fuelled Angela boldly leaps in with its almost poppy punk theatre of sound and easily devoured contagion.
No Regrets, which features Sef Idle of again False Idle, follows with its caustic stomp of punk/hardcore belligerent sound and praise to him above, whilst an extended cut of a song which first appeared on the band’s debut album brings the EP to a close. This City is the kind of punk roar The Old-timers are recognised for, and a song which still sparks greed and energy in limbs and thought even after a few years.
Whereas Turn It Off has the wealth of unpredictable adventure and invention in songs, Turn It Up has the diversity of punk flavours. Both complement each other perfectly and again provide plenty which those without the faith the band passionately infuse their music with, can also greedily devour. The Old-timers get better as they grow older and with the band donating every penny of digital and physical sales of both EPs to U-Turn Homeless Ministries in Cape Town, they are a must for all punk fans.
The Turn It Off/Turn It Up EPs are available now through Thumper Punk Records and Veritas Vinyl, as well as most digital stores.