I didn’t have very high hopes for this. One look at the Nato Coles side of this split tape and I was like, “Nuh uh, not in the mood for this level of hipster, no thanks.” But this is Exhibit A as to why you should take Ben Franklin’s advice: “Don’t judge a cassette by its cover.” Sometimes, you might just be surprised.

I’ll start there, because that’s where I started: Minneapolis’s Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band hooked up with Denver’s State Drugs for this split on (also) Denver’s Motorcycle Potluck, contributing two (longer) songs to State Drugs’ three (shorter) ones. Fact: Nato Coles recorded a track called “Byung Ho Park Home Run Song,” his “version of [Park’s] Nexen Heroes theme song from Korea,” which I found incredibly charming. It’s not on this tape, but whatever. You like baseball? You’ll love that tune.

Anyway, the two bands are perfect together. Ramming together the headlong power punk of the Replacements with a little bit of Social D’s country charm (though Coles’ “Midnight in Memphis” is a total Joe Cocker torch burner), State Drugs and Coles and the gang plow through their contributions like their mustaches and sideburns were on fire. There isn’t a guitar in sight that isn’t shredded, not a string that isn’t strangled, no riff that isn’t ridden off into the sunset. The energy level is fully redlined; you can smell the stale beer and cigarettes on these tunes, the whiskey behind the bar. There’s not a cowpoke saloon in the Midwest that these two bands wouldn’t be perfect in, maybe behind chicken wire so they wouldn’t get hit by flying bottles during the inevitable brawl.

There’s always a brawl in a cowpoke saloon during sets by bands like these. There’s a rule about that somewhere.

This one’s an easy one to enjoy. Get over the look and get on with your life. I certainly did.