Review Summary: Often overlooked, "Mortgage Is Bank" helps bring life back into a dying genre.
When an album is cheap, I say buy it. Even if you’ve never heard it because who knows, for a few bucks, it just might be good. Yes, I know. This is pretty ridiculous advice. But if something is $3 when it normally runs $10, the risk may pay off. I took a chance like this when I was rummaging through my local mom-and-pop’s used section one day and came across a band that I’ve heard of, but never actually heard: The Kinison.
The cover was faded and somewhat torn, but the price tag said $3, so why not? I didn’t really know what to expect when I put it in my CD player, but what I heard was some of the most fun and exciting post-hardcore I’ve heard since At The Drive-In. Mortgage Is Bank, although short, made a huge impression on me and what modern post-hardcore can be.
All five songs don’t let up as each one is as driving and chaotic as the next. “Hey Hey Hey” sets the tone with its crunchy guitars, jumpy drum beat, and spitfire lyrics. Once vocalist Chris Lewis comes in with his rapid vocal style, you can’t help but make the comparison between him and ATD-I vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Both go from hip-hop influenced delivery, to manic screaming, to melodic-ish singing all in the same song. “Chanbara” comes to mind when “Hey Hey Hey” is on, except with less salsa and more hardcore influences.
“New Way To Dance” and “Sorry, I’m A Pushover” both have a similar feel to “Hey Hey Hey”, but neither one sounds the same, and all three songs have a life of their own. “Sorry,…” speeds things up with a more traditional hardcore sound to it, with a straight, punk beat and heavy use of octave chords. It is definitely the heaviest song on the record.
“New Way To Dance” starts off light with a driving single-note guitar progression, but then transitions right into a head-bopping chorus. Even though each section is similar to each other, at no time does the song get boring as The Kinison make sure to change up just enough to keep it interesting and not repetitive.
“The Way I Used To Be” is the stand out, with its powerful verses and intense screaming vocals in the chorus. Even though the vocals go out of tune during the bridge and the song is almost 5 minutes long, the intensity and emotion create a very memorable song that will stick in your head for days after.
“The Kinison’s Area 53” closes the record with one of the most interesting tracks. Another slower song, the tribal drumming and whiplash inducing changes create an exciting closer that makes you wish the album was not so short. Coming in with a steady guitar intro and building rhythm section, the song hits hard with its speedy transition, and flowing perfectly into a beautifully, chaotic chorus.
However, the few flaws that harm this album are present on every track. Lewis constantly goes out of tune, and the drums sound weak in sections where they should be more predominant and fuller. In addition, the over use of octave chords take their toll by the end, as if both guitarist had no idea what else to play. But the band makes up for their faults with a strong musicianship, and also by never letting up on the intense nature of their sound.
Mortgage Is Bank is one of those gems in a scene where whiny, scene-queens have taken over the post-hardcore world. Nowadays, it has become increasingly difficult to find bands like The Kinison who play more in the style of bands like the Refused and At The Drive-In. While not as talented as those bands, they are more honest and heartfelt than their modern peers, like Chiodos and Escape The Fate, bands that have no idea what post-hardcore really is. This was a random find that has become a favorite. I say, take the chance and take a gander at the beat up, used section every now and then. You might just find something to your liking.