Excitebike call their music Nintendo-core. What a great name, especially for those of us who grew up playing Excitebike on the Atari and Nintendo. This would be the perfect EP to have on while camped in front of the TV playing Nintendo, if you put it on repeat anyway. The band plays the style of emo-core that seems to flirt at one second with the melodic and emotional, the next with the crazy and chaotic. Think Boy Sets Fire crossed with Portrait, and you have an idea of these excellent songs.
“If and Only If” starts off super strong, with driving guitars and high-energy, vocals sung and shouted at once, and then it breaks down into the coolest melodic guitar part that really works for this band. Don’t worry, it picks up again, the music never quite turning into the chaotic hardcore, but the vocals sung and shouted together. “Standard Candle” is a bit more ominous and urgent, with plodding rhythms and driving guitars that even hint at a metal-style of sound. There’s still that moody breakdown in the middle, this time with strings, which automatically wins me over.
Things quiet a bit, with “Car Crash Song” centered around some excellent drums and a different vocal style, more spoken, at least until the song picks up. It has more of the emo quality here, except for the sheer screams in the background, a soaring track. It flows nicely into “Voltron” (the band’s nod to 80’s cartoons, which works with the name like the little bit of Nintendo theme music earlier on). This track has the feel of older Cross My Heart, with more focus on the sung vocals, but it does have some intensity and blasting guitar work. Finally, “Clocktower” finishes with the most intense track. Crashing drums, alternating between sung and screamed vocals, and chugging, heavy guitar riffs. This track is all about power and intensity.
For a debut CD, this is one stellar release. The band isn’t necessarily doing anything different, but they put all the pieces together better than almost any band I can think of. Fans of the metallic versus the heavy will go nuts for this combination of precision and power.