The Retakes, a four piece punk outfit hailing from the Minneapolis area, features Miles Halverson on vocals/guitar, Alex Kies on guitar, Donnie Kirksey on vocals/bass, and Evan Floyd on drums. Their second release, third if you count a recent split release, Trash is a four song EP that shows off the band’s punk rock chops as well as their eye-opening ability to shift things up without venturing too far from their core style. Their avowed primary influence are the seminal 80’s and 90’s alternative band The Pixies and the claim bears some merit. Like those legends, The Retakes have a rare ability to bring the dissonant, melodic, and jarring under one tent and finesse them together into something spectacularly unique. Moreover, they aren’t one dimensional in the manner of many modern punk bands – vocalist Miles Halverson has a flexible voice and the contributions from the band’s second vocalist Donnie Kirksey have an enormously positive effect on the release.
A blast of unadulterated punk rock rage opens the album. “Trash” is a defiant, chin held high declaration beginning with a muscular wind up. When the band dives headlong into the song, they are clearly holding nothing back and stomping the gas pedal through the floor board. There is a certain amount of steadiness here, however, because experienced fans of the genre will hear how the band has a clear idea of where they’re going from the outset. They shift sonic gears for the album’s second track. “Monkey (He Speaks His Mind)” makes excellent use of dynamics but resists being another all out raver in the mold of the opener. Instead, the alternating passages create tension missing from the all-around roughhouse tactics of the opener.
“Junk” explores similar contrasts but with an added layer of nuance the earlier song lacks. The sharp adjustments in volume give the song a very rolling by the seat of your pants feel as if you can never quite expect what’s coming next. On this song and its predecessor, Halverson’s voice shows off more of the punk fury that makes him ideal for the music, but his stylistic dexterity is equally worth noting. The song confirms its capacity for surprise with the abrupt introduction of fuzzed over voiceover in the track’s second half. The Retakes pursue a surprising final direction on the song “Ginsberg”. It opens with a solid minute of the Beat poet reciting his poem “America” before slowly sliding into the EP’s last fire breathing stream of shrieking punk fury. The song name checks one of, arguably, Ginsberg’s most famous poem “Howl” and drips blood from first note to last,
Trash has ample punk credentials, technique, and superior songwriting that goes far beyond the ken of the usual two chord thrashers. The business of music like this is to be signature, distinctive – The Retakes have managed this from the first release on and, frankly, they play and write like a band quite incapable of being anyone but themselves. This is an EP for anyone who loves punk, but really, anyone who loves blood and guts rock and roll.
by Lydia Hillenburg
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