Archive for November, 2014

I have already written about the awesomeness of The Amp Session on these very virtual pages, so I will say little more about the internet radio station, except that this was their first organised gig. The bands involved in the debut Amp Session Live! were diverse and stimulating. First up were The Landed, which I missed the majority of, thanks to London Midland and ‘unforeseen delays’. However, that song and a half I heard were pretty great, and what I’ve heard since on Soundcloud proved that it wasn’t the beer distorting my hearing. The Landed play traditional blues-y rock, but are clearly influenced by ‘70s and ‘80s power-pop, with melodic choruses a-plenty. It’s energetic, toe-tapping stuff, and I would like to actually hear a full set next time. Next up were Surray’s Rival Empires, a female-fronted, anthemic rock band full of vigour and passion. They look like a band already made for a big stage at a festival, and that is partly down to the stage presence and ‘cool’ factor of lead singer Lucy Albury. I usually try to avoid lazy comparisons, but Paramore definitely came to mind when watching Rival Empires: big rock choruses, soaring vocals and sing-a-long parts, it’s all there. And then the main band came on, in the form of something completely original and alternative: pirate music. That’s right. Completely clad from head to toe in pirate gear, the aptly named Peerless Pirates tore up the stage with their folk-based ditties about their pirate lives. Things kicked up a gear dance floor wise at this point, as their swashbuckling groupies got merry and danced the night away. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a damn fun one and Peerless Pirates fit in perfectly in a pub environment. And that marked the end of an awesome, but musically and stylistically diverse night of music. Arr, mateys, cheers to that!

DB

This is the most recent pop punk pick so far! Masked intruder’s self-titled debut album! Four masked gentlemen in ski masks with different colors singing creepy songs about breaking into a girl’s house and winning her love and sad unrequited love songs. Pop punk has been a distant genre the last few years, especially in the traditional version and what we’ve grown to know Pop punk as, has been either whiskey-drinking hipsters from Florida with beards, singing gruff songs about how much life sucks, or whiny metalcore bands with boy band vocals that sounds like they have a huge longing to be on TRL, even if that shit doesn’t exist anymore. There are of course good bands in both these genres of punk, but to me Masked Intruder’s blend of Ramones-core and oldies-core with Intruder Blue’s vocals that are absolutely beautiful is something else. The most common critiques of the band would be that they don’t bring anything new to the table, that they base all their music on old ideas and that they are simply generic, that they have a gimmick that won’t last in the long-term, or at all, and that they are contributing to a sexist male-dominated culture, which overflows with entitlement and objectifies females.

I can’t really argue that the band is not generic; except for Blue’s vocals, they don’t really bring anything new to the table. Is any band truly original though? Can’t we just enjoy the music? Finally a band plays pop punk! And are any of those Gainesville or NFG-core bands that original? Same as a lot of homophobic and misogynist hip hop artists, MI operate under fictional characters and it gets harder to accuse the band of being sexist. It’s also dangerous to blame shitty cultural things that are ingrained in society on a band. The band does undoubtedly have a gimmick, and the gimmick is sort of silly. The thing is I don’t think the band would have been as great as they are and have the following and diverse fan base they have if they were just dependent on having a gimmick and singing creepy sexist songs about being criminals and breaking into ladies’ houses. There’s something universal and relatable in their lyrics that works outside of, and even in spite of, their gimmick; something that is inside the human consciousness (and not only some kind of institutionalized sexism), but something that makes the songs work on their own without the gimmick or the criminal imagery. This article will be mainly on the band Masked intruder, and who’s behind the masks of Intruder blue (singer and guitarist), Intruder Green (guitar and vocals), Intruder Red (Bass and Vocals and Intruder Yellow (drums) is irrelevant. They also bring a police officer, Officer Bradford, on tour, who’s with them on stage.

The album was released on Red scare in 2012 and re-released on Fat wreck Chords in 2013. Their second album M.I somehow fell short to this one, but gets better and better and does have a couple of good tunes. This is however maybe when they come to a point where the gimmick will wear off and sadly the songs and their songwriting will too, but hopefully not. This article is about the first album though. A strong strength of the band is their musicianship and their production, which might be one of the reasons they have more success than a lot of similar sounding bands: that, and the songwriting of course.
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1. “Masked Intruder”: The first track is just a short intro. Does this intro have the required features needed to introduce a band that dress up in masks and plays the roles of criminals? Is there noisy music? Check! Is there an obligatory police siren? Check! Is the bands named spelled out? CHECK! M.A.S.K.E.D. I.N.T.R.U.D.E.R! Masked intruder!

2. “25 to Life”: Is maybe the song that works most as keeping the gimmick separated from the song itself. The prison/criminal imagery serves here mostly as a metaphor. Blue sees a relationship as a prison, but he doesn’t mind being locked in that kind of prison for life. The song is full of prison imagery and love clichés. It also has some cutesy lines that are pretty poetic like “In a world of nightmares you’re my sweet sweet dream” and “In a lifelong wintertime you’re my first day of spring” describing the purpose of meeting this special person. In the context of the album, Blue sings about a lady that he only sees from the outside, but outside of the album the song can be seen different and could even be seen as romantic. Musically, the song sounds like a heavier Ramones and with a chorus goes into a classic pop melody with Brian Wilson inspired harmonies. The song also reminds me a lot of the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian”.

3. “How Do I Get To You?” Really works as the creepy entitled love song written from a criminal in jail. The song has a very interesting rhyming scheme that is hard to explain and it’s pretty much a straight up pop punk song. A classic line from the song is “you just can’t charm a lady with a knife/ But that sucks, cause it’s all I know how to do”.

4. “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight”: This is maybe the creepiest song on the album, but in that way also the most brilliant. Blue, even if he is a criminal, represents himself as a frightened character who doesn’t want to be alone. He also claims the girl in the song doesn’t want to be alone either. The bridge of the song “When you think that you’re all alone and you’re feeling blue, just take a look in your back yard…/ I’m here for you” sounds like a way of comforting this lady, but it could also be seen as a threat as it comes from a dangerous criminal. The band made a music video of the song after the album was re-released on Fat. The song has a pretty cool keyboard.

5 “Unrequited Love”: This 60’s inspired pop song goes into the maybe most important theme of the band: unrequited love. The first verse is also repeated as the second verse, very similar to a lot of Queers songs on Move back home and Lillingtons songs. There’s a nice tambourine in the song that gives the song its pop-feel. The lyrics are pretty sweet and, except for one line, goes away from the criminal theme. The exception is maybe the prettiest line of the song “Every single day is lonelier than the last/I cried so many tears that I had to wring out my mask”.

6 “Breaking”: Is another straight up pop punk song. The cool thing about the lyrics is that the title “Breaking” is used in different ways. Blue is breaking in because his heart is broken, he is broken up since they broke apart. And he is breaking down and he is breaking out to fix a broken situation. He is breaking down because she broke the news that he’s not the one for her. The song ends with an acoustic guitar being played outside the lady’s bedroom (cheesy 80’s movie style) and goes straight into the next track.

7. “Heart Shaped Guitar”: Maybe the most popular song from the album and the song that also includes the female point of view. Blue sings his creepy, yet romantic poetry about standing outside the girl’s house and playing on a heart shaped guitar, trying to get the listener to sympathize with his romantic feelings, but the female perspective just makes him sound creepier, as she sings “dude, you’re freaking me out, what the fuck’s wrong with you?” which is maybe one of Masked intruder’s most brilliant devices. The last verse is more of a duet where Blue sings his lines and she sings hers, which makes a strange harmony. The chorus is also extremely catchy and the guitar solo playing the chorus is no different. The girl singing in the song is Maura from the Mixtapes and she is credited on the album; she is also known as Intruder Pink.

8. “Am I Only Dreaming?”: This is maybe my favorite song on the album. It goes from being straight up pop punk to ending with more of a Doo Wop song, and I feel it’s a song that just can’t leave the listener unsatisfied. It’s also one of the songs that both fit the theme of the album, but is also just a standard love song.

9 “Stick ‘em Up”: This is the most punk song on the album, and has nothing to do with the “romantic” side of the album at all. It focuses mostly on the criminal side and Masked Intruder actually robbing people. This serves as a huge contrast to the rest of the album, marking the band as dangerous criminals rather than romantic troubadours. “I GOT A KNIFE MOTHERFUCKER STICKM’EM UP!”.

10. “Why Don’t You Love Me in Real Life?”: Is the song on the album that sounds most like a Power pop song. It starts up rather slowly and speeds up a bit as it goes on. The lyrics in the song reflect on the relationship between infatuations in dreams and reality. Blue wonders why the girl that loves him in his dreams won’t love him in real life and rather calls the cops on him when he’s trying to break into her house, which is understandable to the listener, but not to Blue. The theme of the song reminds me of “Boy of the Month” by the Connie Dungs: “I tried to kiss you when I heard the damn alarm” (which of course is different from the alarm in the Masked intruder song), Weezer’s “Only in dreams” and “Astral plane” by the Modern lovers. The line “you were eating a popsicle” also seems sort of creepy.

11. “Hello Beautiful”: Is the song sung from when the band has broken into the girl’s house. In the song, Blue tries to convince himself that he means no harm with breaking in and he has not come there to rob her, but rather to win her love. The song ends with a phone call the girl makes to the police saying “these guys are fucking assholes, maan” the police asks “have they damaged anything?” and she says “they just keep on singing” and that leads us into the next track.

12. “Wish You Were Mine”: The song starts up a Capella and a straight up doo wop song. This is where Blue’s beautiful voice really shines through. Later the song transforms into a more aggressive pop punk song, but still with the doo wop harmonies that makes the song one of the best on the album. It’s also another song that works just as much on the album as it works as a metaphorical love song, the whole chorus is brilliant!:

You lock yourself in your castle
Away from the pain and hassle
Oh, baby, can’t you see
That you are locking out my love, as well?

I want you to show me romance
Won’t you give a lonely masked man a chance?
‘Til you do I will be blue
And living here in my own private hell

13. “Crazy”: I’ve never been sure if the album was supposed to be a concept album that was supposed to be seen chronologically. At least there is some chronology on the last few songs. In “Why don’t you love me in real life?” she calls the cops, in “hello beautiful” we can hear her calling the cops and that leads in to the a-Capella intro of “Wish you were mine” and in “Crazy” Blue is on trial. The song describes Blue’s claim of insanity, instead of just pleading the 5th, when the court declares him sane, he says his insanity isn’t temporary; he’ll always be crazy for her. “I made some bad decisions/ Cause I’m crazy for you/ And now they’re gonna throw me in prison/ Cause I’m crazy for you”.

So now I’m feeling like I have unmasked Masked intruder, at least musically. I also wonder if they will do like Kiss and make an Unmasked intruder album. The next pick will be another Self-titled, by the Riverdales!

Review: The Shangri Blahs- Ranka Paiva

Posted: November 27, 2014 in Reviews

https://i1.sndcdn.com/artworks-000095467653-mz6u1c-t500x500.jpg

So I’m going to review a Finnish band, and as a Norwegian, they are neighbors! In spite of that, I can’t understand a word that is being sung! Even if we are neighbors geographically we have completely different languages. The way I understand it, the Finnish language is a Uralic language in the same family as the Sami language and the Norwegian language is a Germanic Indo-European one. Well, that’s all the linguistic crap I’ve got for now. I think bands singing in their native language are cool; so many bands just sing in English nowadays, so this is cool! I also really love the name the Shangri-blahs! The guitar work is well performed throughout the EP even if it to me can get a bit too much shredding for me. I feel like the band is hard to place genre wise and that means there’s originality in the band’s sound. The vocals aren’t really my cup of tea, but the instrumentation is pretty good! The second song “Tää On Psykoosi” is really good! It sounds very garage-y, but with some punk added to it. All in all I think this is a pretty good EP!

RH

Comic Strip: Eddy Jellyfish

Posted: November 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today, we welcome a new member to the Keep Track of the Time family, and our first piece of art on the site (finally!) in the form of a short comic strip. So, welcome Eddy!

This is the comic strip under the title of “Eddy Jellyfish” (all three strips are separate, but all fit under this one title).

Enjoy!

Eddy Jellyfish (1)

 

Eddy Jellyfish (2)

Eddy Jellyfish (3)

 

 

 

Smithereens cover art

I like discovering new DIY punk rock bands, but more often than not their first 7” or demo tends to be shoddily recorded, too amateurish (even for me) and in some cases unlistenable. It often takes those sorts of bands a couple of releases to really get going. However, new London-based punk band Bottler’s first EP Smithereens is actually pretty good. I’m not saying the recording is super clean, but it fits the style well. This is DIY punk done right.

There is an apt sense of urgency in these three minute hits that harks back to the classic ‘70s punk/pop-punk bands, like The Damned or Buzzcocks. It’s poppy/melodic punk, but I am unsure about labelling it as straight up pop-punk. There is definitely a ‘90s skate punk influence in there. It reminds me a little of Zatopeks in that they mix up a little bit of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll and Oi! with their pop-punk. Similarly, the vocals are also distinctly English-sounding and fit in well with a melodic punk sound. I think the coolest part about this EP is the lyrical content. It is pretty damn difficult to be original in a genre where seemingly everything has been done to death, but Bottler manage to avoid the trappings of pop-punk’s GIRLSHEARTBREAKSURFING and conventional punk’s FUCKDASYSTEM. On Smithereens, we get to hear about the obscurity of DIY punk bands (“Ex-Members”), a satirical ode to being a criminal (“Mastermind”) and a scathing attack on organised religion (“No Questions Please”). It is great to hear a bit of originality, both musically and lyrically, coming from a UK punk band.

DB

Check ’em out: http://disconnectdisconnectrecords.bandcamp.com/album/smithereens

The Fairweather Band 12" cover art

It is difficult to know how to categorise Devon-based The Fairweather Band’s debut 12″. I guess that it is roughly, more or less, in the ‘indie rock’ genre, but there is more going on than that. There is a punk attitude running throughout this 12″, noticeably in the concise, witty and honest songwriting, reminiscent of Against Me! Or The Weakerthans, two bands they count as influences. There is clearly a folk aspect to the music as well, in terms of both sound and songwriting, which fits in with others currently on the DIY punk circuit, like Great Cynics, ONSIND and fellow South-Westers Crazy Arms. In true punk spirit, there is no flak or excess on this concise 12″. Meanwhile, the musicianship is really great, particularly the layered guitars and passionate vocals (that of Rory Matthews, formerly known as Some Sort of Threat). This EP is a grower of sorts and it takes a while for these qualities to show through, but they are there alright. So, I will give up unnecessarily labelling The Fairweather Band and just call them ‘good’.

DB

Check ’em out: https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/the-fairweather-band-12

Like the Dickies, and of course the Buzzcocks, the Undertones are one of the bands from the late 70’s that really fit in the pop punk genre, even at a time when punk rock itself was poppy and even mainstream. The first album, which is the pop punk pick this article, was a perfect mix of punk rock, classic pop music and the R&b music from the British invasion. About a year ago I saw the movie “Good Vibrations” for the first time. The movie is about the record store named “Good vibrations” in Belfast. When I went to Belfast in 2011, the store was closed, which was a bummer. The store was also a record label and the label that released the Undertones’ first single “Teenage Kicks” and made the band a hit and got them to sign with Sire records and they became label mates with the Ramones. The second album Hypnotized continued in the same sound, but didn’t show the same quality of songwriting like its predecessor, in spite of having one of their best songs “Wednesday Week” that seemed more inspired by the Velvet underground than any punk bands or British invasion bands. Their next album Positive Touch went into a more dance-y sixties pop sound and was a step up from Hypnotized. The Sin of Pride from 1982 went even weirder and was way more inspired by soul and post punk. They later went back to the pop punk song without vocalist Fergal Sharkey. The band was started by John and Vinnie O’Neil (Vinnie was replaced by their brother Damian” and Bill Doherty and Mike Bradley in Derry in the mid 70’s). Sharkey joined later.

Contrary to their countrymen Stiff little fingers the Undertones weren’t that much of a political band and if you’ll compare the lyrics on this album and Pop punk pick #3 Go For It, you’ll see a huge contrast. In spite of being from one of the towns in Northern Ireland that was most effected by the troubles, Derry, the album could easily have been made by kids from Southern California and reflect on some of the lighter things in life such as love, cars, being a model and rock clubs. This could be seen as a form of escapism as well as passive resistance. Answering to a shitty political climate with turning away and singing songs about getting teenage kicks to show that this is someone else’s problem. We didn’t get to hear political undertones until “It’s Going to Happen” from Positive Touch, which isn’t necessarily a political song, as it could mostly be interpreted as a song about a relationship, but there definitely a political message there. The hunger strike of 1981 and death of Patsy O’hara, could have been too close to home and something the band just couldn’t leave alone; the song also became one of their biggest hits and is one of their greatest songs.

The album was released in May 1979 on Sire records. The album cover is the lads standing around much like the Ramones. There are a lot of similarities between the Ramones and the Undertones, their names rhyme for one. And they were both on Sire. I bought the album in 2007, I think it was the day before I went to the Pulpit rock (a famous landmark in Norway) and the same day I embarrassed myself buying ice cream at the mall.
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1. “Family Entertainment”: I remember the excitement I felt hearing this album for the first time in the car, 17 and full of teenage feelings. I thought it was a great start of the album and I couldn’t believe I had sat that long on this album (not literally of course, if I sat on the album it would probably break) I loved the guitars and I loved Fergey Sharkey’s voice that seemed very special to be in a pop punk band. Sharkey later went solo and has a huge hit with “Good Heart”. The lyrics to “Family Entertainment” seem to be quite sexual; I would even go as far as to say that they seem a bit incestuous.

2. “The Girls Don’t Like It”: Starts off with a car engine running and girls asking “Wasn’t Eddy driving that car?” and turns into a story about Eddy and his car and asks the questions “What else can you do if the girls don’t like it?”. This song is catchy as fuck! Not only because the main character is named Eddie, but the song really reminds me of Eddie and the Hot Rods.

3. “Male Model”: This song describes the life of a model and the life story that has gotten this particular model into that profession. The title is very gender specific and saying this model is a dude, which of course nowadays would’ve seemed kind of weird. The song is maybe the most punk song on the album. I’ve always been unsure whether the song is satirical and a critique on the fashion industry or if the song actually exchanges a longing to become a model. Pansy division did a great cover of this song!

4. “I Gotta Getta”: I think this is where the band show their more Beach boys side with its nice guitar solo, rock n roll riffs and catchy choruses. The song tells the story of two people, a boy named Jamie and a girl named Jackie Trainer. She never wants to be at home, because she always gets in trouble with her parents and Jamie starts a car without knowing how to drive, which is a huge mistake!

5. “Teenage Kicks”: One of my favorite scenes in “Good Vibrations” is when John Peel plays “Teenage Kicks” twice on his radio show. That place in time just seems so timeless, just like the song. Everything is perfect about this song. The drum intro, the guitar riff and the cute lyrics about teenage dreams and the new girl in the neighborhood all fit the song so perfectly. When Terri and Ruth dance, I feel like dancing myself. The first version I heard of this song was a live cover from a bootleg by the Norwegian band Jokke & Valentinerne, but it has also been covered by bands like Busted and fucking One direction. I always heard a huge similarity between this song and the Misfits’ “Some Kinda Hate” and I always loved both songs. I think “Teenage Kicks” is a strong contender for “The perfect pop punk song”.

6 “Wrong Way”: This is a fast little ditty and also the song where the organ is introduced. The chorus, like most Undertones songs, is super catchy and contagious. The song is about a guy who claims the way his girl is acting is the wrong way and he wants her to change.

7. “Jump Boys”: “Jump Boys” is the anthem of the troublemakers on the album. With an intro that sounds inspired by either The Clash or early Who, the song about the slick and the sorry who have more energy than most and who try to sleep with girls that aren’t allowed to come to their rooms.

8. “Here Comes the Summer”: Few songs spell “Summer” as much as “Here Comes the Summer”: the catchiness and happiness of the song and the organ in the chorus fits the season perfectly. I can’t imagine another song to blast late in the month of May when summer is on the way. It’s also hard to imagine with the joyful music and theme that this song was written by a band from one of the most terror-afflicted places in the world at the time.

9. “Get Over You”: I feel like this is the first love song about “the punk rock girl”; maybe the Ramones had songs like that (“Sheena is a punk rocker”, “Judy is a punk” and so on), but those songs weren’t really love songs. This song is about a girl who is different and dresses differently, which she, just like Jackie Trainer, gets shit from her parents for and she also gets shit from her co-workers and gets in trouble with biker boys, but she doesn’t seem to care. The Queers covered it on their “Surf goddess” EP!

10. “Billy’s Third”: Maybe one of the most straight up punk songs on the album and with the least memorable lyrics. It’s still a pretty good and catchy song. I have no idea if the song refers to Billy having is third something or if Billy is third. Most likely this is Billy’s third song, as he was the one who wrote it.

11. “Jimmy Jimmy”: One of the hit singles from the album and also the only sort of sad song on the album. The song is about a mummy’s boy named Jimmy, who feels ignored and alone and he always did what he was told. We never really what hear what happens to him, but in the end there’s an ambulance. My interpretation of it is that Jimmy got in trouble and ended up dead or he ran away from home and ended up in the hospital. For some reason I can’t listen to this song without thinking of Shaun from “This is England”.

12. “True Confessions”: Maybe the most different song on the album, and more of what we would hear as late as Positive Touch. The song has a very new wave sound and could also pass as an 80’s Pop song if it had more synthesizer and cheesier vocals. I said cheesier, because the vocals are already pretty cheesy. There’s a punker version of the song as a bonus track on the re-release.

13. “(She’s a) Runaround”: The title makes this sound like a girl and her promiscuousness, but rather it’s like “Get Over You”, about a girl who has struggles fitting in and wants to leave and find a place where no one knows her and start over. The song could also symbolize the escapism from horrors that the bands stood for. It also comes closest to the ideas SLF expressed on Go For It. This was the first song on the album that really caught my attention sitting in the car home from the mall in 2007. It’s still one of my favorite songs on the album.

14. “I Know a Girl”:
Maybe the song on the album with the catchiest riff and also the song with the most repetitive lyrics. The Queers were really inspired by this song in songs like “I Won’t Be” and “Hi Mom, It’s Me!” it seems!

“I know a girl
See her everyday of the week
She makes me feel
I’m in love every time that we meet
I know a girl
I know a girl”

15. “Listening In”: The song also like “I Know a Girl” has a super catchy lead guitar intro and the song also has way more interesting lyrics than “I Know a Girl” and more interesting that I had first realized. The song has a meta aspect and seems to be about how nice music is and reminds me a bit of “Thank You” by the Descendents. And I think there’s an ambiguous meaning where “listening in” can mean paying attention to something as well as enjoying music or talking on the phone. The line “On the carpet you’re so small/Who had you covered wall to wall” I interpret as a reference to having posters on the wall of a band, but like the rest of the song it could also be seen as a love song.

16. “Casbah Rock”: The shortest song and the outro to the album. The song is about the Casbah, a club in Derry. The Casbah was the first venue the band ever played. They describe it as a place you’ll never get pop.

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Bonus track: “Mars bars”: Not only is this album perfect from start to end, on the deluxe edition(s) there are also bonus tracks that are mostly awesome! The tracks are the great “Really Really”(also very similar to stuff the Descendents would do later) and “She Can Only Say No”, as well as “Top Twenty”, “One Way ;ove” and the “Teenage Kicks!” b-side “Smarter Than You”. “Mars Bars” is maybe the funniest one of them, praising the chocolate bar and mocking David Bowie and Twix lovers. Mars bars supposedly make you wanna work rest and play!
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So this album should be blasted at a loud volume! (Though watch your ears! No need to use a perfect albums as an excuse for ruining your ears, if you ruin them you can never hear this delight again, so watch out you boys and girls!). The next pop punk pick is a newer one again, it’s also another Self titled, it’s from Masked intruder!

Leaving cover art

Caves are awesome. And if you didn’t know that, you have some catching up to do! The debut Homeward Bound was rough, yet clearly had hooks and potential, but last year’s Betterment was really where Caves took off and honed their distinctive sound. It was pretty much wall-to-wall hits, with the wham-bam of “<3 Koala” and “Betterment” my personal highlight. It is perhaps considering how highly I rate Betterment that it has taken me so long to get into the new one. Leaving is less immediate and punchy, but, all things considered, it is probably almost as good. They are now operating as a duo as well, so that is pretty impressive.

Musically, Leaving picks up where Betterment left off. For the uninitiated, that means gritty, poppy punk full of hooks, girl-boy vocals and sing-a-longs. Oh, and woah-ohs. They love them. Opening and closing your album on one long woah-oh is quite something else. A pure minute of woaaaaaaaaaaahhh-ohhhhh on final track “Sadder” blew my little pop-punk mind. Back to the non-woah-oh stuff, and “Leaving” is easily my favourite song on here. It is 1:36 mins of pure, unadulterated, hook-filled joy. Other bands would milk that chorus for all its worth, but Caves, in pop-punk tradition, play short, but sweet. Its posi-nature is typical Caves too and largely sums up the record’s lyrical content: “I’ll be the change the world needs today”. Meanwhile, “Puddle” is today’s punchy pop-punk channelled through ‘90s emo. “Oh Antonio” is distorted and unsettling (in a good way) and gives bassist Jonathan Minto an opportunity to impress on vocals. There is definitely more experimentation this time around, with “Compare” being noticeably the most a-typical Caves song, coming directly before the drone-y, out-there “Dull”. This is all over in around 20 minutes, but Leaving burrows itself into your head, leaving you reaching for the repeat button.

Take a listen here: http://caves.bandcamp.com/

DB

TIM VERSION "Ordinary Life"

The Tim Version have been on No Idea Records churning out country-tinged punk records for what seems like forever. Their new album Ordinary Life is essentially business-as-usual. As a result, I essentially feel the same way about it as I do about their other records: inconsistent. And pretty unoriginal, to be honest (says a pop-punk fan). This is a band brought up on whiskey, campfires, The Replacements (particularly Tim-era stuff, hence the name) and Gram Parsons. They combine the story-telling aesthetic of country with the raw drive of punk rock, in similar ways to Lucero and Two Cow Garage.

Ordinary Life starts pretty promisingly: opener “For the Birds” is a mid-tempo, anthemic punk-rock hit, ticking all the right boxes. “A Dream about Dean’s Dream” is probably the best song on the album: catchy-as-ebola bar rock; a poppy Replacements-esque ditty. They probably get tired of the Replacements comparisons, but it is so very apt, or I would try to avoid it, even down to the Westerberg vocals. I would say the record starts to go downhill at “The Future of Humanity is Dogs”: a great song title, boring-as-fuck country song. The continual refrain of “one million years” is apt considering that feels how long the song lasts for. It’s just too damn long, maaaaan. A nearly 7 minutes long song for a punk band: fuck right off. I’m not totally against it. It has worked in the past (that Houseboat thing springs to mind), but my God, this song does not deserve 2 minutes, let alone 6. The rest of the album is roughly more of the same as the first half, but past when you stopped paying attention. Faster bar-punk anthems alongside country ditties, and yet another unwarranted 6 minute-plus song. So yeah, this is just ok, but to be honest, mid-era Replacements were incredible, but sometimes I wish it had never happened just to make sure this slew of copycat bands didn’t exist.

DB