BAND: Larry’s Pizza
RELEASE: Off the Wall EP (2014)
REVIEWER: Riz Farooqi of King Ly Chee
STREAM THE RECORD HERE:
Final Rating: 9/10
China has a long history of punk rock. In a country where a lot of civil liberties are certainly left in question with no real regards to allowing the every day person an opportunity to question authority or the status quo, it certainly builds some angst amongst those whose natural inclination it is to stand up for what you believe in. Environments like these are certainly some of the best places to find genuine passion for punk rock, hardcore and metal broiling in the outskirts of general society. Thus, metal and punk rock both have been feeding grounds for decades of genre development.
Punk rock in general in China has gone from bands that played quite simple straight ahead punk rock, to music that is much more intricate and well developed. Case in point is this phenomenal pop-punk band called Larry’s Pizza from Beijing, China. As soon as you hit play on their most recent release, 2014’s Off the Wall EP, you are instantly transported back to a time when Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords ruled your life (If it didn’t rule your life ever at some point, I seriously feel sorry for you). As soon as I hit play on this new record I hear influences from Millencolin and especially Hi-Standard – those bands who took the typical “3 chord” punk rock to a whole new level by lacing more technical skill in the music department. Drums are faster, guitars have more right hand rhythm action, and of course, where is pop-punk without smooth melodic vocals and layered harmonies?
All of the above is exactly what comes flooding to you when the band breaks into that typical fast paced punk rock beat on the first song of this album – ??. But the opening riff and its complexity is what makes this band stand apart and when midway they break into it’s head-bopping breakdown groove, dude – the band solidifies their expertise in creating pop punk with an up to date modern twist.
At times the album sounds like yesteryear pop-punk of the mid 90’s, but at times they combine elements of Set Your Goals/4 Year Strong (especially in their breakdown-esque grooves) to give the sound a modern update.
While 6 of the 7 songs certainly carry on the pop-punk theme, it’s the title song Off the Wall that truly stands out because of how hard and aggressive it hits. I don’t think I can ever remember Larry’s Pizza’s vocalists screaming – but in this song he’s screaming his best punk/hardcore growl very reminiscent of Anti-Flag’s song State Funeral. The song is set to a blistering pace and anyone that is a fan of more traditional sounding punk/hardcore will immediately hear the strong elements of a hardcore song – fast pace, aggressive vocals, good breakdown, two step parts. But to honor their pop-punk roots, they even throw in a little melodic pop-punk part in the song too.
I don’t think I could recommend this band’s latest release enough. The production is top notch as well. Their press release states that the hands of some experts from the Japanese punk rock scene were brought on board to give this a much more stellar production and it CERTAINLY shows with the quality of the recording. But without good quality songs and great musicianship, I definitely think that the world’s best producers and engineers wouldn’t be able to create something this spectacular. At the end of the day, it’s the 3 musicians in this band who created some magical songs that give this EP the attention it deserves.
Check out the first song of the album below and check out their link above to stream the full album. I believe that link includes a way to purchase the record as well.
The CD version of the album is a digipak with a double-sided color sheet with lyrical content. The printing of the lyrical sheet makes the lyrics a little difficult to read. But the cover artwork really represents this band well – a bunch of skateboarders who love punk rock.