words: Jordan Gorsuch
Punk has always had the ability to transcend, to harness its message to help create productive change. While both Camp Cope and Cayetana are on the softer and melodic side of punk rock's spectrum, their earnest pop-arrangements sound even vital and urgent given today's political climate. Together, they're rebelling back against the turmoil of today, and taking the reigns of punk rock for themselves.
Georgia Maq’s transition from solo artist to member of trio Camp Cope has been a fascinating journey to witness, and the band feels like it has come into its own with this latest split. "Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams" (found on their debut) memorably addressed a number of traumatic experiences that occur in a woman’s everyday life – it bravely illustrates the reductionist thinking cat-callers and victim-shamers, and addresses hyper-masculinity. When the band performs this song live, they call all the women to the front of the crowd; to stand together as agents of change. While the split does not tackle anything as heavy, Mag manages to take a bibliographical approach to her storytelling and make her experiences sound universal.
On "Keep Growing," Mag finds herself wrestling her urges to become a recluse: "No. That's not me in the back row anymore / So I'm not going to walk like I'm in your shadow anymore." She uses the growing of her hair to symbolize the slow, almost invisible progress she is making everyday to change for the better. She may feel like she "sit[s] like a book upon a shelf," but even then she makes progress. Kelly Hellmrich’s bouncy bass lines help make Maq’s more reflective moments danceable, and Thompson’s drumming is infectious on these tracks.
Philadelphian rockers Cayetana deliver two strong tracks with different approaches. "Mesa" features rolling drum beats and a high octave bass line that shifts wildly from note to note. Augusta Koch singing voice is soft and fragile as she delivers the opening line: "I thought we'd settle down in Mesa, Arizona." However, that fragility turns into a knife later on as she exclaims with a wavering voice, "we can only hurt ourselves for so long / we can only hurt each other until it all goes wrong." Cayetana offers up "Trails" to close out the split. It is a smart choice, the song is slower and incessantly bittersweet. The band creates a swirling backdrop of noise for Koch's emotional vocal delivery. “If she forgives you, I forgive you / If she forgives you, I forget,” Koch sings smokily on-top of subtle synths and thick bass lines.
Bottom-line, these are some of the most relatable and enjoyable tracks I've heard this year. You owe it to yourself to open yourself up to these two wonderful bands. Their latest split offers the most convincing reason yet as to why they should be on your radar.