Meat Wave’s ‘Brother’ waits for no man. Straight from the gate, the Chicago band’s latest EP, comprised of seven songs both old and new, opens with a quick, crushing blow. The title track is classic punk for the ages: raw, snarling, and unabashedly in-your-face. “You’re not my brother,” singer Chris Sutter spits, his vocal delivery indifferent at best. “You’re just some other motherfucker’s brother.” With jerky rhythms and pummelling drums, ‘Sham King’ is a prime example of this fierce prowess, while EP closer ‘Ants’ reduces Meat Wave to a disturbed trio of terror-stricken young men, angry and shrieking across monstrous melodies and mighty guitars.
And yet, ‘Brother’ isn’t all guts and no glory. ‘It’s Not Alright’ is predictably annoyed and aggressive, while ‘The Truth’ is brimming with searing self-doubt and delivered at warp speed. Brother has all the typical trademarks - loud, fast, and even louder still - but is also angular and shifting, with more than one surprising turn. ‘Sunlight’ is blindingly brilliant, driving post-punk, nuanced and executed with near-perfect timing. In a thoughtful nod to the past, Meat Wave tackle ‘Mystery’, a track from the Wipers’ seminal 1980 release ‘Is This Real?’ Though not dissimilar to the original, the carefully renovated cover speaks to the band’s aptitude for combining influence and reinvention.
Its subtler moments well hidden among blasts of bold, powerful energy, ‘Brother’ strikes that hard-to-find balance between strength and skill. With Meat Wave, it’s easy to overlook a purposefully awful band name (a lewd take on “heat wave”) and find yourself addicted from the outset. It seems these local favourites are poised to make a splash in the new year. Would anointing ‘Brother’ as one of the best introductions of 2015 be jumping the gun? Ride the wave now, and avoid getting left behind.