Cloud District and Mike Pays Heat are both bands that relentlessly play small venues and basements. Cloud District hails from New York, and Mike Pays Heat is another band from the Philadelphia scene. Earlier in the year I had the chance to see Mike Pays Heat in the very same basement where I saw Steady Hands. They released their first EP in April, and I picked up a copy of it at the show — it was fun, catchy, and I knew I wanted to hear more. As soon as I heard about this split EP, I jumped at the chance to listen to it, despite not knowing Cloud District at the time.
Cloud District has the first two songs on the EP, “Natalie Dormer” and “Submerge.” “Natalie Dormer” jump-starts the EP with a fun jam, and the only thing I wasn’t too fond of were the track’s gang vocals. They seemed a bit off at times, but that wasn’t a major enough issue to deter me from loving the song. The lyrics are relatable, and the melody makes them easy to sing along to after just a few listens. “Submerge” keeps the flow going, guitar driven at first with minimal drums in the background. I love how they bring the drums frontwards just after the first half of the song. For never having heard any of Cloud District’s songs before, these two left a decent first impression, and I just may have to go listen to their other material.
“Oxygen” by Mike Pays Heat opens up their half of the split with a good balance between the guitars and drums. These guys know how to write catchy lyrics and great guitar parts to go with them — a standout line in the song is, “I was swept from your heart and into your lungs.” “Breaking Pencils” is the last song on the EP, and takes quite a turn from the previous guitar driven songs. When the song begins, the vocals are soft and the music is minimal and slowly builds up. Around the two-minute mark, the drums build up and give more energy to the song. However, the vocals didn’t seem to follow suit at first, which seemed a little strange to me. But around the three-minute mark, they shift and the vocal melody does follow the speed of the music. The song is good, but due to it being almost six minutes long, it felt slightly out of place with the other three songs all being under three and a half minutes.
Despite the small missteps, the EP was enjoyable and memorable. “Natalie Dormer” and “Oxygen” were my favorites from each of the bands, simply because they were catchy and a pleasure to listen to. I look forward to seeing how each of these bands develop, and, until they release their next material, I’ll be playing this EP quite frequently.