Cover of Swell Tides' and Roid Rage's Split

Review of Swell Tides’ and Roid Rage’s new EP Split

by Kyle Cochrun

“I love straightforward, nasty records. You know? Don’t think too hard. Make it fast. Do it. NOW.” – Jordan King of Swell Tides

This record is an armada of ocean liners combatting a rowdy sea of Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

This record is a mouthful of oil-slicked seaweed slicing your tongue, but the blood tastes kind of good.

This record is, all metaphors aside, filled with high-quality, organic, DIY rock n’ roll songs that you can party or just violently nod your head to. 

This record was written and recorded by two local psych-rock bands: Swell Tides and Roid Rage. Swell Tides plays the first four songs, Roid Rage plays the last four songs and both bands play the middle song, “Sooprize Package,” which was recorded in one take in a basement. The track order was decided by a bowling match, and let it be known that Jordan King of Swell Tides bowled a nearly-perfect game, winning his band the first four songs on this split EP, which is aptly titled Split. Congrats, Jordan!

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This record is probably about many things, but it’s at least partially about pedal-bolstered guitar tones as terrifying man-eating bog monsters with nine-inch fangs and virescent skin that’s somehow both scaly and dripping to the jungle floor.

This record is for fans of Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, The King Khan & BBQ Show and Jay Reatard (RIP). Both bands work within the realm of noisy, low-fi psych-rock, though neither can be accused of ripping off the sounds of their influences. The music should impact listeners on a gut level, though both its success and its differentiation from similar bands relies on subtle alterations on a well-worn formula.

This record includes a song called “Mashed Potato Alligator.” 

This record is not two different statements by two different bands, but one collective statement by two different bands working in tandem.

This record may include vocals shouted through a baby monitor.

This record will be deemed garage rock by some listeners, though that term is useless unless you determine the exact garage the songs were made in. A guess: There are at least two posters with variegated kaleidoscope designs, but also a poster of the first Ramones album. The inside of the plastic cooler beside the drum kit is dappled with black mold and contains empty cans of Busch, Miller, Natural Light, maybe even a bottle of Rolling Rock. The microphone is naked. The air reeks of sweat-soaked cotton. The concrete is cracked, covered by an army of guitar pedals.    

This record may include lyrics with political implications, since there’s a song called “Senator.” Then again, it might not. Hard to tell. 

This record was recorded, mixed and mastered by Rob Keith at Electric Company Records.

This record is justification for the idea that a thematically cohesive album can be created through a collaboration between two distinct bands. Roid Rage and Swell Tides mine the same crag of psych-rock, but the nuances in their sounds (Jordan’s oily snarl vs. Jake’s brawny yowl, Tides’ trebly keyboard pings vs. Rage’s meaty bass gurgle) demarcate their respective sides without straying from the album’s mood. 

This record is impressively executed and leaves one hopeful that Roid Rage and Swell Tides have a future playing clubs outside of northeast Ohio, inducing flannel-clad youngsters to mosh their brains out and crowd-surf to feedback barrages for a reliable income, if that’s what they want.

Kyle Cochrun is a writer from Akron, Ohio. Contact him at