Release Date: 22nd September 2021
Label: New Professor
For Fans Of: J Church, The Front Bottoms, Stephen Malkmus
In previous decades, b-sides were often scoffed at: “If the songs were any good, they’d have made the album,” went the sneer. Then came the streaming age, bringing the near suffocation of artist’s income. With songs earning fractions of a penny per play, b-sides, deluxe issues and remixes seem more important than the original album. And yet the old adage still comes to mind.
But cliches are there to be proven wrong. Sometimes, a b-side album is dropped that adds something profound. Gaslight Anthems The ’59 Sound Sessions, or Nirvana’s Incesticide showcased the band in a new light, capturing the direction the band wanted to explore by unveiling what didn’t make it. The songs may not have been quite right for the final cut, but there’s a value in peeking behind the curtain. Cheekface’s b-side EP, Emphatically Mo’, feels like the band showcasing their abilities, giving the fans more of the jangly, danceable punk of January’s Emphatically No.. Although seemingly a little looser than that offering, these four tracks are an exciting addition to their catalogue.
The guitars rattle. The bass gives the sense that the studio is falling apart. The drums urgently plod, basking in the paradox. Lead vocalist Greg Katz talks as much as sings, delivering lyrics that should be mundane but instead feel relatable.Like a chat in a coffee shop with a new friend: Nothing too personal is revealed, yet the whole 12 minutes somehow feels intimate. Cheekface are able to sound like a ton of bands—The Front Bottoms, Stephen Malkmus, J Church, to name a few—yet somehow feel completely unique. There’s an endearing tone to Katz’s delivery, a sense of adventure within his lyrics that leave you excited to hear what happens next.
Emphatically Mo’ possesses an alluring sentiment that keeps you listening, yet it’s hard to imagine any of these four tracks on Emphatically No.. They simply don’t fit, lacking the verve and purpose that made that album so coherent. Yet they’re too good to sit in a vault forever. Emphatically Mo’ then, feels like the great compromise: Release good music without ruining the original vision. Isn’t that what b-sides should do?
Recommended Track: “Reward Points: