ALBUM REVIEW: Top Of The Stairs by Maxband

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

For those who may not know, Maxband is based in New York City. They are the side project of Max Savage of Parquet Courts, Patrick Smith of A Beacon School with Tim Nelson on drums, and Eric Reed on lead guitar. The sound they get is something of a post-punk/indie rock blend. One moment it is fast and in your face, and the next it is more toned down and pulled back. Their debut record Perfect Strangers was just that. All of these songs were a unique collection that gave a glimpse of what the band had to offer. Fast-forward to 2020, and the release of Top of the Stairs, Maxband have been around for quite some time, and were ready to release something new. This material would ultimately be the punchy, fast hitting brand of post-punk that is seeing a strong resurgence in the underground rock scene. It’s fast, unapologetic, and refreshing to hear. The production on this EP is top notch, and the band is really coming into their own on these tracks.

From the first song, “Unsaid,” the band delivers this high energy punk music that’s reminiscent of Parquet Courts — fans of the band will love this track. The bass lines are just terrific and grab your attention. “Cut it Loose” is addictive and catchy as anything the band has ever put out. Patrick Smith and Max Savage split the vocals on this track and their intertwining voices work so well. Smith’s vocals are softer, and dreamier, while Savages are more direct and in your face. They both showcase the two musicians’ different avenues they take in music. Savage brings the punk energy, and Smith is coming from a more dream pop realm. Two very different worlds, yet they are able to make this track work, and work well. “Good Time” is slower, more methodically laid out, and a nice easy late-night track, some amazing drum work on here by Tim Nelson. “Rural North” is another song that’s really deep musically. At times the guitars bring such an ambience that’s both mysterious and beautiful, but never loses that edge. Savage’s vocals are sweet on this track. The influence of Patrick Smith’s musicianship is definitely on display here, anyone who listens to A Beacon School will be able to see that. “Case of Dust” is sort of an amalgamation of the different styles Maxband plays with. At times dreamy, at times more rock and roll center, but at the end of the day, it’s just a flat-out great track. 

What Maxband do best is they have developed a sound unlike no other. They have found this nice space in-between the worlds of punk and the dreamier side of pop. The band is able to stay not only contemporary, but they innovate on their own musicianship. They can do the punk songs, and they can do the more laid out ones where they let their instruments do the talking. They take these genres and mash them together and what you come out with is Top of the Stairs. It is not like their previous full length and opens up the door for more innovative rock music coming from the New York four-piece. The future is bright for Maxband. 

Tracklist:

  1. Unsaid
  2. Cut it Loose
  3. Good Time
  4. Rural North
  5. Case of Dust

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