Midwest Pop-Punk powerhouse The Copyrights and one of Northern California’s mainstays, Kepi Ghoulie, team up to bring us a four track 7” record via Red Scare in the US. The album title, Observation Wagon, borrows one word from the opening track titles on either side.
The Copyrights‘ side opens up with “Welcome Wagon,” a track which I first heard as a previously unreleased Easter-egg on the Fest 18 website. The mid-tempo piece opens with a scratchy guitar lead and seamlessly leads into some classic sounding Copyrights. But, what stands out to me most is the chorus, which strays a little bit from the expected progression and pulls out a few unexpected turns (just when you thought you knew exactly where it was going). The combination leads to a great song, which takes us to “Are You Passionate.” This track is more straightforward musically, but the bright star here is the bluntly honest and rather unarguable lyrical insights. Its a fitting successor to “Welcome Wagon” and nicely rounds out the side. Most importantly, it’s encouraging to hear these two solid tracks as the band’s first new music since 2014 (how has it really been THAT long?).
Kepi’s side begins with “Observation Day,” a lightly percussive acoustic track which features Kepi’s signature vocal delivery style. Complete with a whistle solo, trumpets, and some well placed vocal harmonies (from Kevin and Allyson Seconds none the less), the track could easily be the part of the soundtrack to one of your summer road trips this year. My favorite part is that it captures his one-of-a-kind personality and live stage presence rather well. Next comes a cover of The Copyrights’ “Four Eyes,” a fan favorite from their first full-length. Kepi definitely puts his stamp on the track, but I find that it gives a rather intriguing look into the similarities between the two groups’ songwriting. I think fans of both bands will agree this is a memorable homage for Kepi to contribute.
While on the surface this may seem like an unlikely combination for a split, with a closer look it seems more obvious. It wasn’t that long ago that Kepi teamed up with The Copyrights to re-record one of the classic Groovie Ghoulies’ records Re-Animation Festival, which was released in January of this year. To me, this makes the “Four Eyes” cover even more memorable as we’ve already heard the covers going the other way (for the most part.) Even prior to that, The Copyrights played as Kepi’s backing band at least once in the past. Alongside the release, the two have also teamed up for a number of shows this summer as well, playing a handful in both the Midwest and Europe. Given their busy year together, this is a perfect release to tie it all together and definitely worth a listen. On top of that, you’ll probably find yourself coming back a few more times.