Growing up in a city which values greed, ruthlessness and brinkmanship would, one expects, have quite a profound effect on a group of young, politically aware punks. This is certainly true of the Washington DC punk band the Split Seconds, who have channeled their experiences into a tough, street savvy mix of the crisp, melodic punk power of the Buzzcocks, the working class spirit of Stiff Little Fingers and the activism of the Clash.
On their follow-up to their first album, Center of Attention, the band have actively tried to broaden their sound, incorporating a little reggae, rockabilly and surf rock into the mix, as frontman Drew Champion explains.
On Counterfeit Reality we tried to build upon the foundation laid by Center of Attention. At the core we’re still playing raw, punchy, classic punk. Musically, the songs are more focused and the sonic content is more diverse and dynamic.The lyrics are more acerbic and less optimistic. Counterfeit Reality brings the listener into our struggle to live with integrity in a culture of corruption and chaos.”
Opener “Everybody’s Wrong” encapsulates the passion, power and vitality of the band’s sound as Champion rages against the deception, profligacy and egotism that continues unchecked in the nation’s capital. (“Everyone’s drawn to a new destruction/everyone sees what they want to see”). On the rabble-rousing “Used to Be Nice”, Champion refuses to kowtow anymore as he spits out lines like “I’m taking what’s mine / I’m taking no shit” over a riff that crashes face first into a bouncy, melodic punk chorus.
Throughout, Counterfeit Reality the band really do open up their sound and show off their musicianship. The rockabilly-punk of”Dirty Shirley” features a ripping solo from guitarist Alex Massi while on “Fortunate One” the band demonstrate a real pop sensibility. “Punk Rock Blacklist” takes aim at fake, over-privileged “punk” bands while taking its cues from the Clash’s incorporation of reggae.
The band also show they can do big, anthemic rockers as on “Dear Cynthia” and first single from the album “Where Have All The Good Men Gone”. The caustic, straight up punk attitude of “Impulsive Automatic” adds a little more bone and gristle while surf rock, instrumental “Get the Hell Off Tthe Beach” is a surprising left turn that fits the album perfectly.
As Counterfeit Reality collapses in an exhausted heap with the knockabout, classic rock n roll of “Little Lizzie Icepick”, it’s clear that The Split Seconds have drawn valuable life lessons from their environment and directed them into this exhilarating collection of classic punk songs.