Taking Names is a pop-punk band from Bergen, Norway, signed to Loyal Blood Records. Since 2015, the band has “released a fresh breath of 90’s- inspired pop-punk with a modern variety of references from different genres, giving them a uniqueness to stand ﬁrmly on their own musical feet”.
With their new EP dropping today (February 24), Taking Names “takes the leap and are aiming for new heights both nationwide and abroad”. Their favourite bands and influences include blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World.
Opening things, you’re challenged to “Say Anything”. It sees clattering drums herald abrasive and urgent guitars. Chugging, badass bass permeates as the vocals take hold. The chorus is impassioned with pop-punk “woah, woah woah”, the vocal pitch shrill and high. “Say it ain’t so” a pleading proclamation, indeed. The song takes a new direction, wailing guitar confirming so. A rocking flourish ends it.
Applicants needn’t bother with their “Near Life Experience”. This continues that chugging vibe with perhaps a slightly different emotional bent to things. “Final destruction/Ready for eruption” very much conveys and encapsulates the grave proceedings. A chord, on the bass of all instruments, is played, adding excellent, rarely exploited dynamics to the track.
“Young Landmarks” hammers in with much power and energy, they’re certainly a pop-punk band with added weight and brutality. Speed and urgency the key, along with heavy stylings, to their sound. “Tied down to the ships as they vanish beneath/Cut ropes on my neck to make sure I breathe” very much indicative of the trouble and strife within the lives of the youth generation.
Also inspiring within the listener a real sense of clever imagery and, in turn, metaphor. Things are then brought down to a whisper, ending delicately.
Things begin to conclude in mythical proportions with “So The Legend Goes”, and’s despondent, aspects of it as delicate as the last ended. It really drags its heels: “Wave after wave/Pulls him to the grave” clever in how it seems to look to the sea, like the quoted lyric in the song before.
Pounding bass drum, loud and emphatic in that it doesn’t have layers of other instrumentation competing above it, lets the moody and brooding atmosphere kick in. Guitar is sparse, backing vocal is dreamy and reaching for ascendency, before the rocking fervour kicks back in.
You meet a sticky end in “Trap City”, and it seems to end the project on a celebratory, triumphant note. Intermittent bass weaves and grooves, complexity in simplicity and sheer attitude. Lines like “I wanna get away” perhaps explain why the title of trap city is invoked. Indeed, you could argue the vocals, the instrumentation, are, in their general hectic tempo, suffocating, in a way. No room for thought or breathing space.
Particular highlights are “Young Landmarks” and “So The Legend Goes”. These are placed right amidst the middle of the project’s duration. The tracks enveloping them aren’t too bad, either. These two are the most exemplary of the five, in total. The least they prove in every of the five instances is that they’re definitely more than a pop-punk band.
“Young Landmarks” proves, indeed, they’re of this frame of genre of mind but with added weight and brutality. “Tied down to the ships as they vanish beneath/Cut ropes on my neck to make sure I breathe” is a remarkable lyric, far cleverer than much of the teenage angst within the pop-punk genre. Dynamics wise, going from so impassioned to ending on a whisper yet another point of note.
“So The Legend Goes” seems to link to the previous with the lyric of, “Wave after wave/Pulls him to the grave”. It’s evocative of the sea, and whereas the previous pulled away to avoid drowning, this seems to imply getting pulled down. Dragged into the waters. That emphatic thump of the bass drum, not having to fight above the din of other competing elements, too. Again, dynamics.
Taking Names are more than your average pop-punk band. Faster, heavier and better, to be honest. Indeed, the EP is a short but effective burst, a taster of things to come. Even little things like bass chords put them head and shoulders above anybody in not just pop-punk, but the whole entire rock genre itself. Taking Names’ Trap City EP can be purchased on iTunes, here.
Words by Andrew Watson