Friday 11 June 2021

Alarms & Controls/Secret Smoker - Split 7"

Labels: Protagonist Music/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 10 Mar 2015


1. Alarms & Controls - Mama's Sweet Ride

2. Alarms & Controls - Flood Plane

3. Secret Smoker - Every Moment All At Once

4. Secret Smoker - Sun Eaters

I've had this review in my back pocket for a little while and planned to post its up sooner, but here we are. The next few in this little series should come at you a bit faster. That series of course is my Zegema Beach Records (ZBR) roster review series, which I've been trying (and failing) to publish once a week. This is the first of a few 7" reviews, hence why I'm more optimistic about my own intentions to write more. Anyway, this split was released in early 2015 via both Protagonist Music and ZBR, and features two US post-punk/emo/post-hardcore bands called Alarms & Controls and Secret Smoker. I think 300 copies were pressed on clear orange vinyl.

It’s another sticky evening tonight and my energy is waning, let’s hope this restores some of it. I have to say that Alarms & Controls are totally not what I was expecting. Their jazz/funk/rock n roll approach here is definitely refreshing and there’s some math-rock flourishes going on during ‘Mama’s Sweet Ride’, which opens this split. It proves that you shouldn’t pigeonhole labels or expect certain sounds. Their second song ‘Flood Plane’ features clean singing once again and has a strange Lynyrd Skynyrd feel to it. The instrumentation is really clean and clear, while the vocal melodies are where their post-punk influence starts to show. It’s both upbeat and downbeat at the same time. Still good though!

On the flip side, Secret Smoker take on a sound that’s very much more old-school emo/screamo on their first song ‘Every Moment All At Once’. It has a rawness that you’d expect from a band of their ilk and as such, the vocals sit deeper within the mix, while the instrumentation looms over the top. The guitars are melodic and the drums are really prominent. I’m gonna be predictable here and say that this was what I was expecting from this split. Their second song ‘Sun Eaters’ is more on the atmospheric and introspective side, with the lengthy instrumental intro leading another heart-on-your-sleeve number. Plenty of emotion and a solid 90s feel. 

This is very much a split of two sides (unsurprisingly!) yet both bands compliment each other super well, instead of merely doing the same thing. Going back and discovering releases like this is the reason I’m still pressing on and committing time to this series. This split is great and illustrates exactly why the 7” vinyl format is such a great day to discover new bands or to reach more varied audiences. 

You can stream and download the split digitally from ZBR here:-

It's also available from Protagonist Music digitally here -

I've been unable to find any live social media accounts for either band.

Copies of this split are still available in physical form from the labels below:-

Deathwish Inc (Protagonist Store) -


Protagonist Music -

Zegema Beach Records -

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