Even as far as 7″s go, the new Mad Oak Records/Wonderdrug Records split between riffy Boston punkers White Dynomite and heavy rock four-piece Hey Zeus is pretty brief. The two cuts included, White Dynomite‘s “Sweet Tooth” and Hey Zeus‘ “Stomach,” are done in under five minutes total, but the alliance of the two bands carries more substance than that might indicate. With members of Roadsaw and Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses in their lineup, White Dynomite are no slouches when it comes to pedigree. Recently signed to Ripple Music for a reissue of their 2013 self-titled full-length debut, they’ve also added guitarist Jay Fortin (currently of Supermachine, formerly of Scissorfight) to the ranks, and while he doesn’t play on “Sweet Tooth,” his presence is felt on the split anyway since he took the pictures of the bands on each side’s cover and handled the layout of the 7″ package, the liner card for which features a cigar-smoking chimpanzee and the cover(s) of which recall hardcore 7″s of days gone by. Eerily fitting for two bands made up of adults clearly having kid fun playing fast and brash rock and roll.
This split is the recorded debut of Hey Zeus, whose “Stomach” is the longer of the two tracks at just over three minutes. Fortin‘s photo on the cover comes from a show at the now-defunct-should’ve-been-sold-to-me Radio Bar in Somerville last July, a gig at which Hey Zeus shared the stage with The Scimitar and The Brought Low and covered Deep Purple twice (review here). Bassist Ken Cmar is the head of Wonderdrug Records, the logo of which it’s good to see again, guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman are veterans of Lamont, and vocalist Bice Nathan recorded “Stomach” at New Alliance Studios, and on the track, Hey Zeus make good on the experience of the players in question to proffer memorable, speedy, hook-minded songwriting. Less riotous than White Dynomite, they’re also tonally thicker — Cmar‘s bass has punch enough that one is tempted to duck — and take some cues from Lamont‘s Southern-on-speed methodology. They are not on swagger, which makes them all the more a match for White Dynomite, whose King Kong-size shenanigans are writ large all over “Sweet Tooth.”
Blink or misplace the needle on your turntable and you’re likely to miss the bass intro from Tim Catz that actually starts “Sweet Tooth” before John Darga‘s guitar and Craig Riggs‘ drums join in. No frills, no bullshit, White Dynomite offer sheer propulsion topped off with the classic punker vocals of Dave Unger. The four-now-fivesome recorded “Sweet Tooth” with Mad Oak Studios‘ Benny Grotto, and as one would expect the sound is natural and crisp in just the right balance. For all the chicanery at work in what White Dynomite do, they’re also remarkably tight, the members channeling punk roots and donning white suits as they sprint toward and past whatever one might expect from them based on their other past and current outfits. If you can’t keep up with “Sweet Tooth” the first time, it’s easy enough to put it on again.
Two relatively newcomer acts comprised of veteran players, it’s not much of a surprise White Dynomite and Hey Zeus pair well here, and for both giving a first impression of what Hey Zeus conjure as far as driving riffs and for giving a sample of where White Dynomite are headed coming off their first album into the next stage of their tenure, it’s a 7″ that accomplishes an awful lot in less than five minutes. No substitute for efficiency.