Death on Wednesday – Songs to ____ To EP

Death on Wednesday
Songs to ____ To EP

Three full years after their surprisingly stellar debut album, 2000’s Buying the Lie, Death on Wednesday graces us with a six-song EP that fulfills all of that previous album’s promise and still leaves us tantalizingly waiting for more. While it’s unclear why the band took so much time off from recording – they have played live fairly relentlessly – this EP feels worth the wait, moreso in that it is not a teaser for a forthcoming album. No, that may still be years down the line. In fact, this wasn’t even supposed to be a release; the band was just recording a few songs as demos in their garage before they signed on an impressive group to mix and master them.
So can six songs make up for the wait of three years? It is if they’re this good. Clearly the centerpiece of Death on Wednesday is Nate Lawler’s voice – clearly reminiscent of Morrissey or the Smoking Popes frontman (who also drew comparisons to Morrissey). Here, Lawler has a bit more range than on the band’s more punk-based debut, using his voice to give a kind of retro feel to each and every song, while the hooks and rhythm is clearly that of a modern punk-pop band. But nothing here is traditional poppy-punk. Drawing from their influences of The Clash, the Stones, and others, the band injects a dose of retro-rock into their modern power-pop/punk style.
The purely retro-pop bounce of “Simple Life” is glorious, riding Lawler’s vocals and a bouncy beat with layers of loud and catchy guitars running overtop. If you’re not singing along to the chorus of “walk that simple life” by the end of this song, you’re not listening at all. Must more upbeat and punky, “Born to Bleed” is a fast-paced rock track, riding Alkaline Trio-style power-pop/punk rhythm and guitars. My favorite song here, “Falling” allows Lawler to belt out his tunes – in his sort of croon – at a faster pace, and the guitars come in shimmering and tight over the catchy beat. The guitar on “Wait for Love” is rather bluesy, giving the song a hint of a balls-out rock approach, like the Stones or even AC/DC.
Many punk bands wouldn’t attempt a quiet, acoustic song, but Death on Wednesday offers two. “Sympathy” seems clearly made to highlight Lawler’s voice, deep and rich as he belts out the sentimental lyrics over soft acoustic guitars. And the untitled hidden track is even more unusual, taking a country approach with warbling guitar and a country/folk pace. Lawler seems just as home on this track, singing these lyrics with the same emotion yet helping them flow nicely over the guitars.
The band has clearly energized and honed their sound since their debut. While this is clearly still poppy, infectious punk-rock, the band changes their styles a bit to match Lawler’s retro-minded voice, and it’s just what they needed. There’s a lot of similarities between what they do and where the Smoking Popes are headed; I only hope they can pick up the mantle the Popes left and roll with it. To do so would require a bit more recorded output, however, and a little more frequently. But who am I to complain? (And in case you’re wondering what these songs are for, they fill in the album title blank with some suggestions on the front cover, none of which are the one you’re probably thinking.)