SINGLE REVIEW: Ballpeen/Onlooker Split EP (Serial Bowl Records)

There’s no football-type rivalry in the local music scene, as evidenced by bands from the Tyne and Tees joining forces on the latest release by Sunderland-based DIY punk label Serial Bowl Records.

Ballpeen are from Newcastle and Onlooker from Teesside, and each have three tracks on this very limited split release, which consists of two separate CDs bound together with a labelled OBI strip.

Onlooker are a quartet formed in late 2017, and so far have just their self-titled debut EP, released by Serial Bowl last year, to their name. It’s on Bandcamp HERE.

They make no-nonsense lo-fi garage rock, influenced by the likes of Fugazi and The Oh Sees, though on the first track here, Lambrini Nights, the vocals recall none other than Johnny Rotten.

Harmonistic Logistics is another blast of short, sharp riffs, and the closing Safe And Sound is my favourite of their three tracks, with the scuzzy guitar and rhythmic drumming reminiscent of an early Buzzcocks demo.

Ballpeen, by their own reckoning, “sound like some of your favourite bands from the 90s and early 00s”, with Fugazi (again) and The Melvins obvious reference points.

They have a handful of releases under their belt, most recently the eight-track cassette Pachinko, which came out in April. You can catch up with previous releases on their Bandcamp page HERE.

The three songs here are all new ones, and despite them only being a three-piece, the post-hardcore outfit are a right noisy bunch of bastards.

They open with Hate Fantasies, a slice of progressive hardcore which features slow, churning rhythms, then lay down some punishingly heavy riffs and get even angrier-sounding on Great Wide Receiver, my pick of their three tracks. Their CD is rounded off by the mid-paced Sincerity Is All, at 2:40 the shortest song of their three, but no less furious.

Released on 16 July, this split CD is limited to just 40 copies, though it’s also available digitally. Get your copy from the Serial Bowl Records Bandcamp page HERE.

  • Onlooker and Ballpeen both contributed tracks to the recent Serial Bowl Collective Appeal, which also features Born Shit Stirrers, Vice Squad, Loaded 44, Hi-Fi Spitfires, Beat Combo, Diaz Brothers, Chaos 8, Jaded Eyes and Daiei Spray. It’s £3 (or more) for 11 songs, with all proceeds going to the local foodbank, and you can download it here.
Gary Welford owner