EP Review: Straight On View – Gotta Step Up

3.5/5

Taking their cue from late-80’s New York hardcore and the straight-edge positivity of youth crew-type bands like Chain Of Strength, Youth Of Today and Wide Awake, Philadelphia’s Straight On View come roaring out the gates with their debut, full-throttle EP Gotta Step Up, out April 5 on Strange Mono.

With a motivational message apparent in song titles like “Don’t Push Me (Push Yourself)” and “Try Hard” (sample lyric, “believe in yourself and you won’t have to hide”) the 13 and a half-minute, 8-track EP doesn’t waste any time getting down to business. Only closer “Different Strokes” (just) goes past the two minute mark (thanks to a deceptively laconic guitar intro, that then bursts into a hardcore ball of fire). 

The unpretentiousness of Straight On View is in the band credits, all listing first names only. The sincerity of the message to bring about positive change, meanwhile, is evidenced in the band teaming up with charity label Strange Mono and committing all proceeds from EP sales going to PAWS (an organization helping animals in need find a home or return to the wild).

All of which is to be admired. Fortunately, the music lives up to the good intentions. For sure you need to be into some high-octane, in-your-face hardcore to enjoy this. Every track on this release has its sections of breakneck, hardcore charging, but that’s not the whole story. 

There’s a dark Black Flag vibe when “Gotta Step Up” lurches into its zigzagging-guitar-led part B. “Vision of Blindness” almost has a touch of Pain of Mind Neurosis and crust punk about it (plus a bit of lead guitar wailing that also pops up elsewhere on the EP). The previously mentioned “Try Hard” meanwhile gives the bass an opportunity to push to the front for a minute or two. 

Throughout, the drumming is always on point with no shortage of great fills and full-on intensity (which is also the word for the hyper charged vocals). Come here for the intensity and the positivity; get a few surprises and a dark edge to take away with you. Good work, Eliot, Matt, Chris, Jim and Colin.  

Listen to and buy Gotta Step Up here. 

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