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Album Review: Tigers Jaw / Tiny Engines Split 7"

It seems like Tigers Jaw are on a split record every other month these days, but whatever, it works. They have consistently rolled out one solid release after another and their most recent effort with Tiny Engines (a new group made up of old favorites from O Pioneers, New Bruises, Senders and Mid Carson July) is no exception. Similar to their previous splits with Balance and Composure and The Sidekicks, the tracks on this EP serve both as decent entry points for new listeners and satisfying appetizers for older fans hungering for fresh material between LP's.

When the first chords of "My Friend Morrissey" ring out they strike a much thicker, dreamier tone for Tigers Jaw, which is a surprising step away from the increasingly darker and ragged sound they have recently been building on with "Two Worlds" and the Balance and Composure split. Given that they are a band with such a distinctive sound, the first few bars are almost unrecognizable as Tigers Jaw, but then the familiar blocked-nose vocals kick in with those hallmark melodies and you know where you are. With sunny reverb drenched guitars gently gravitating influence from the '90's-style shoegaze revival we are currently enjoying, "My Friend Morrissey" sits comfortably among the absolute best of Tigers Jaw's output thus far.

Second track "No Mask" confirms that they have reeled things back to melodic punk territory after their grungy experimentation on The Sidekicks split, and in true Tigers Jaw style - upbeat in pace and downtrodden in lyrical tone - the chant of "If I was smarter I would know how to fix this / If I was younger I would say something more direct" seems to take a U-turn back to their self-titled LP.

Personifying its namesake, the final track "Haze Coffin" echoes with droning vocals draped over brassy, sparse plucks of an acoustic guitar, sounding more like something belonging to a Joan of Arc record than any material Tigers Jaw have previously explored. Still, it's a fitting and serene ending for their half of the EP which has seen them stick to their guns and throw curve balls in all the right places, and Tiny Engines pick up where they leave off.

This is Tiny Engines' first batch of recorded material (they haven't even played their first official show yet) and though opting to begin their journey with an eight minute epic split into three parts is a brave and unusual move, it hits hard and is one hell of an accomplishment - beginning with upbeat Superchunk style guitars and gradually getting darker and more antagonistic as it moves along. With lush musical landscapes punctuated by gravelly vocals and tight beats, Tiny Engines are aptly placed on a Tigers Jaw split - it's hard to see how someone could be a fan of one and not the other. They certainly seem to work with similar themes with this EP, which is brought to a memorable close with the repeated lines "Sometimes things change with the people you love / Sometimes you burn out all the things that you love".

It's easy with a split release, particularly when one band is better known than the other, to let your attention lean more towards one half, but Tigers Jaw and Tiny Engines have each provided material that supports and enhances the others; They knit their similarities and differences together to form one exceptional and well-rounded record.


Tigers Jaw / Tiny Engines split 7" is released April 10th through Run For Cover Records.

Emma Garland

Alter The Press!