From simply a location standpoint, it doesn’t really get more Midwestern prairies than One Headlight High. Hailing from Northwest Missouri (originally, Tarkio), a stone’s throw away from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, the pop-punk five-piece have been part of that region’s scene for five years. Tyler McIntosh (vocals), Danny Hogue (guitar), Tim Miller (guitar), Ethan Piveral (bass) and Duston Noland (drums) put out their third release in February: the six-song Show Me State of Mind EP.
I suppose I just lied to you, because the EP actually has seven tracks. The first one is something I don’t usually understand on albums: an “Intro”. If that’s a skit or something it makes a little more sense, but here it’s under a minute of..well, an intro. It has the makings of a cool song and then just ends, which is kinda disappointing. That’s the only beef I have with this EP though, and ultimately it’s far from a deal-breaker.
“Juicebox Hero” is the second track and first proper song, and might be my favourite. I really like how, to start the second verse, the bassline stops and really high, cool power chords get showcased. It sounds awesome, and it’s funny how in music those almost toned-down parts can really add so much. The heavier, palm-muted guitars that end the chorus are a nice touch too. The title track is next, a more mid-tempo “put up or shut up”-type number that’s a good lyrical showcase. “Star-Spangled Hammered” starts with some really good drums, and from a purely technical standpoint is perhaps the most badass song on the album. Speaking of badass (!) “Billy Badass” is up next, a song about saying “screw it” and just letting loose. It almost could be a call to fans too, with lyrics like “and I’m slowly learning that these nights are my medicine/so let’s kick off our shoes and let’s get to moving /get up, get up, I want to hear you screaming/get up, get up, you can’t escape the feeling we’ve got us into/I wanna make this count put our heart into everything we do”. “All I Want For Xmas is a Face Tattoo” is a palm mute-happy track with echoed, dueling vocals that sing of needing a change. Ith It’s a good one. (See I said “ith” as in a lisp, as in Mike Tyson as in face tattoo…you’re with me right?) Finally, “Mysteries We Love” wraps the EP up with some more strong drumming, this time rollin’ on the hi-hat. A slowed-down chorus sings of livin’ and changin’: “Cause I believe in mysteries we love, the answers lie within the questions that we’ve both become/and you will see this mystery like song, the smiles and the selfless sections that we once could/oh that we once could love”.
Overall, Show Me State of Mind is a strong offering. The distortion is plentiful, there are some nice technical moments, it has some lyrical depth and something I can personally never get enough of: wordplay! Tyler McIntosh’s voice reminds me of Mark Hoppus and Patrick Stump, and to really throw it back Lee Serviss of (sadly) now-defunct Sudbury, Ontario act Far From Heroes (who I can’t find so much as a Wikipedia page for, so here’s a song!) One Headlight High are competing in the Warped Tour Battle of the Bands, so go fire off a vote or two and check them out – at Warped (hopefully!) or otherwise.
One Headlight High online: