Split CD between two Orange County punk bands who didn’t want to sound like Orange County punk bands. ESL has sing-a-longs and Shamus has shouting matches! Produced by Paul Miner of Death By Stereo fame.
ESL: Super-fast, super-tight poppy hardcore with breakneck time changes that still failed to do much for me. Their drummer is fuckin phenomenal, though. Shamus: More pop-influenced hardcore. The singer screams a lot more, though, and they end up sounding like a faster Op Ivy, minus the ska. Not to be nitpicky, but your last name is spelled wrong, kids.
(Jimmy Alvarado) FLIPSIDE, Issue #122, Summer 2000
This is pure punk for now people from the mecca of angst–beautiful Laguna Hills, CA. This is a split-CD, with ESL starting things off promisingly enough. While the revved up, semi-melodic hardcore of early 7 Seconds is a definite reference point for these boys, their occasional clang-guitar stylings recall the late 70’s art-punk of L.A.’s Urinals. Damn fine stuff, and that’s only the first half of the disc! Shamus O’Niel sticks to the simple “faster and louder” ethic on their ten cuts, with the added plus of a vocalist whos sounds like the bastard son of the Tasmanian Devil and Johnny Rotten. It’s nothing a little Prozac wouldn’t help, but hey, this is Laguna Hills; a clove cigarette would suffice.
SKRATCH, Issue #42, August 1999
I have heard really good things about ESL?! and all of the hype I had heard was true from their contributions on the split CD from ESL?! and Shamus O’Niel. The band has fast and catchy songs with great guitar hooks and melodic background vocals, as on “Up North,” “Avarice for Destruction,” and “We Don’t Need You.” Although not too original, they do what they do well. On the other hand, Shamus O’Niel does not do much well. The singer needs to work on his vocals. Perhaps he believes to be in a punk band, you must push the envelope on how loud you can scream so the listener can’t understand a word you’re saying. The band does have some meaningful lyrics that address social issues, like working for a living as on “Waste of Time” and “Act Your Age.” Overall, Shamus O’Niel seems to be trying too hard to be a punk band, with more attention devoted to their music than their image.
SKRATCH, Issue #45, November 1999