Red Alert & Rough Cuts, Double Aye/Eh Side Split EP (Cursed Blessings Records, 2021)

Toronto’s Cursed Blessings Records is one to bookmark, friends.

Our neighbors up North are quickly making a name for themselves on the strength of a roster that boasts Dragged In, Choices Made, a gaggle of other rad Ontario acts, and Santa Cruz’s Seized Up. 

Among the label’s latest on an already decked out 2021 release slate is a killer split. Pairing Rough Cuts, Toronto’s reigning kings of Oi!, with UK legends Red Alert.

Red Alert’s 1983 We’ve Got the Power LP was, in my opinion, an instant classic worthy of Shock Troops-level adoration. Take a listen to “S.P.G.” and you’ll likely agree. Much like their Cockney contemporaries, said album is absolutely crammed with rousing and melodic pub rock melodies that split the difference between Oi!’s heyday and UK punk. Somehow, nearly 40 years on, that Sunderland magic remains.

“Too Many Goodbyes” is a masterclass in aging gracefully. Much like their neighbors in Stubbs and company, they’ve managed to grow into their sound without sacrificing the fire that first bore them.

Fittingly bittersweet guitar leads tear throughout the runtime, bemoaning the loss inherent in sticking around. They still employ killer group vocals, doubling down on melody and songcraft. Sound the alarm, friends. Bangers are imminent. Red Alert is back. 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s likely what’s at the core of the split’s flipside. “Nobody’s Fool” comes courtesy of Rough Cuts and it’s, in essence, a love letter to community.

Thematically centered around a local soul/ska/reggae DJ night in the big T.O., it’s a ripping and bellicose take on French style Oi! also nods at early ‘oughts hometown greats King Size Braces. Brazenly anti-fascist, these Toronto FC supporters can craft pint-swilling anthems with the best of them.

Much like their essential 2020 LP Nobody’s Fool, it’s a burly and raging song that should appeal to fans of Bishop’s Green, Lion’s Law, and undoubtedly the legends of this wax’s flipside. 

Though I’ve got no dog in the football/soccer fight, though I feel compelled to say “It’s Coming Home” and whatever MLS battlecry Rough Cuts assigns me. 

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Tagged: red alert, rough cuts