The Rowley Estate, Still T.R.E.
“Aggressive Pop-Punk” sounds a bit oxymoronic at first, and maybe brings to mind “The Young and The Hopeless”–era Good Charlotte. But Windsor trio The Rowley Estate is showing just how to manage it, with their first full-length album, Still T.R.E. Recorded at Sound Foundry Studio in Kingsville with Brett Humber, the album is rather short, clocking in barely over nineteen minutes. But it’s fun and fast from start to finish, with no fillers to skip past.
The record starts off with a quick intro, “Still T.R.E.”, which seems to promise a bit heavier of a sound than the rest of the CD delivers. After 37 seconds it blends seamlessly into track two, “You Better Run Run.” Upon first hearing this song the guitar tones had me thinking I had stumbled across a long-lost Blurt recoding. And I love Blurt, so I get pretty excited. Once the bass kicked in, however, I knew that this was something different. The feel of this track isn’t quite as ominous as that of the intro, but the pop-punk vibe is definitely there. Once the vocals kick in is where the “aggressive” part really starts. These guys aren’t trying to serenade their ways into the hearts of pre-teen girls, they’re trying to get everyone partying. The lyrics are still feel-good; “And I’m not trying to tell you how to live, but I know one thing: keep it positive.” Delivered in raw and rough shouting that fits in perfectly with the instrumentals, feedback, and gang vocals. About ¾ of the way through the song it breaks down in the traditional way of hardcore music, while still keeping it’s fun and up-beat attitude.
The entire record plays like a show, songs bleeding from one into the next with barely a pause for breath, group vocals appearing on basically every song, and even the sounds of kids screwing around making appearances.
Track three is one of my favourites, simply titled “Wen”. The lyrics might repeat themselves, but again the message is adorable, but not in a puppy-with-it’s-head-titlted sort of way. The lyrics read like a break-up song in which the boys accept the fact that it’s still necessary to care for your buddies/exes/what have you, even after things go south. “And I don’t trust you more than I can throw you, and we gotta carry each other.”
“Oi! You!” has the simplest of lyrics (see title) but it’s perfect for a quick bout of merciless skanking. Love the snare intro on this one,
The interestingly titled “Instead of a Head He Had a Package of Meat” comes up next, and being as it is technically a pop-punk album, the woah’s and oh’s had to make an appearance eventually. Here’s where it happens, and thankfully, they’ve done it in the least offensive way possible. With lyrics like “Let’s stick together. This is the right path for me. My friends and positivity.” It’s a happy enough song to pull it off, and the fact that they aren’t sung too sickly-sweet or given a solo makes them bearable, and, dare I say it? Downright enjoyable. This is definitely a track to sing along with.
I’m in love with the bass on “Snitches Get Stitches”, both the tone and the playing. The way the bass holds it’s own over the entire album is impressive, but there’s something about this track in particular that really works for me. The vocals seem to differ very little from track to track, but I guess when you’ve found something that works for you, keep it up. The brevity of the album makes it so this sameness doesn’t become overly repetitious, so that’s a good thing. But I anticipate the next album to see where they go.
Track number seven, “Sounds”, is an instrumental bit that is the calmest of all the songs, with some interesting ear candy if you pay attention. At first listen it might come across as simply a minute forty-eight of drum and guitar looped, but there are some neat things buried in there if you care to find them.
And then the album closes with “Eastbound”, which is apparently about Derek’s love for New York City, and how he plans to live there eventually. The filters on the vocals on this one make it sound like you’re hearing this testament screamed through a telephone from somewhere far away. This entire track is the most stand-out on the album for all the differences in it’s sounds compared to the rest of it. It still has the gang vocals and poppy snare, sure, but the some cleaner, more wailing guitars, and less aggressive singing help it to be it’s own thing.
Since the recording of “Still T.R.E” drummer Pat Meloche has left the group (on good terms) to move out west, and has been replaced by Will Garant. Will does still appear on the CD though, as a part of the gang vocals, so that’s pretty cool. And apparently he’s doing a terrific job manning the skins (even Pat says so). Also cool.
Pick up The Rowley Estate’s Still T.R.E. at Dr. Disc, Hometown Skateshop, or at their next show.