Don’t sleep on this
It’s good to have friends, and in the case of Don’t Sleep, something incredible can result of said friendship. The band that is relatively new in the Hardcore/punk scene has a singer who’s been around for a while, Dave Smalley. Smalley is known as the singer of punk bands like Dag Nasty, Down by Law, All and DYS. The rest of the band members are Garrett Rothman (bass), Tom McGrath (guitar), Jim Bedorf (drums) and Tony Bavaria (guitar). The band’s Facebook bio describes them as: “5 friends playing hardcore and trying to make a positive impact on the world.” The band starts by making a positive impact with their debut album Turn the Tide.
The first track, “Don’t Sleep,” kicks off the album just right. Fast guitars mixed with hard vocals. “No Other Way” connects with the high speed of the first song. This song will be great for any live performance when the crowd can interact with each other and the band. “Reflection” hits almost mellow notes from time to time, yet the chorus invites the listener to sing along with passion. Following the song is “True North,” which almost sounds like a Game of Thrones reference, but who knows. It is imaginable that an angsty white walker would listen to the song. But even for non-fictional people, the piece offers great potential.
Again, the album picks up the speed to match the first two songs with “Abandoned Us.” With “Prisoners,” a highlight awaits the listener. The song is hardcore blended with a few pop elements, which creates a fresh sound and shows that not every song has to sound similar. The lyrics are clearer to hear, yet the riffs are still powerful and strong. “We Remain” was, along with “No Other Way” and “Refine Me,” released as single ahead of the album. The song represents the sense of the album, which is essential when a band releases singles before the release. The track’s chorus reminds a little of the classic Ramones song “Blitzkrieg Bop,” so it has the guarantee to be stuck in people’s ear all day.
The next song up, “Walking in Sinai,” contains some pretty good riffs; the vocals are raw and match the sound nicely. Pure punk is channeled in “Refine Me,” with a fast pace and critical lyrics, another great highlight on Turn the Tide. One of the shortest songs on the album is “Foundation,” but lacks nothing of hardcore and energy. After “Foundation” follows “The Wreckage,” which almost seems like a little story; it hits people unexpectedly as it is reggae, infused with short passages of punk. Not really ska, not really punk, but 100% distinct and unforgettable. The combination and the lyrics create a memorable track. The track has a playtime of almost five minutes and is by far the longest song on the entire album, but people will enjoy every second of it.
The album closes with another surprising song. “December” has a hippy/folk vibe. So much positivity in the sound is nearly shocking. It feels like this song is from an entirely different album, no, universe. Featuring this song shows how much fun the band had making the album, especially ending it with this tongue in the cheek track.
Don’t Sleep managed to create an album that surprises even the biggest hardcore/punk fan. The last songs of an album tend to be boring; people already listen to so many songs so they get distracted. Featuring such different songs at the end is a brilliant move because it gets the listener’s attention one more time before the end. All in all, Turn the Tide is an inventive album creatively executed.