Cheap Time – Self-titled
These guys look like they had some time off from their runway jobs and thought to start a boy band. The one in the middle seems to have forgotten to turn off the eternally bored look that models tend to sport. With the visuals screaming at me to beware the second coming of 98 Degrees, I caught the indicator of grand possibilities in the top right corner. Looking at the 80s-themed logo with a resemblance of neon pink coloring, I thought there was a slight chance that Cheap Time was a either an 80s punk revivalist band or even the re-issued real thing. Since listening to them would literally be a cheap time, I figured they were worth a grab.
Not long into their debut record, it is apparent that Cheap Time aren’t in the market for long players or deep lyrical conversations with their listeners. The trio actually zip through most of their songs under two minutes with lo-fi production and catchy punk riffs. They’re also not the angry type of punk, (the album cover kind of kills that idea anyway) but I can imagine they can light up a stage with the requisite noise and energy level.
The evidence that this hypothesis may be true can quickly be found in their music. Though the opener of “Too Late” sounds a bit disjointed, the record really powers on when the chorus of “Glitter and Gold” crashes through some descending riffs. The high speed chorus of “People Talk” definitely reminds me of U2’s “I Will Follow”, but it is a killer track. It probably has to do with the repeated aspect of the title over a piercing, high guitar note that accompanies it. Amidst all of the great adrenaline-inducing tracks on this record, “People Talk” stands out the most.
Since most songs are quick, it is rare for Cheap Time to let one get tired of any particular direction they’ve followed. The one instance where they gamble with longevity is in “Trip to School”, which clocks in at just over three long minutes. As the last track of the record, it begins quietly enough with slow guitar build that could go either way. You know how it is; bands tend to make the last track of their record something personal, slow, and usually boring. Just as one is about to give up on half of a song of build up, Cheap Time eradicates the notion of a cool off with another fantastically catchy pop punker. That was the right way to go out on a record that just slips under thirty minutes with fourteen tracks.
I think that Cheap Time’s debut record really appeals to me because they have quite a few similarities to a few of my favorite bands, such as the Exploding Hearts and the Marked Men. I’m personally just thrilled that these guys are even still around! Now with two records in the books, perhaps Cheap Time will be able to cull together a full hour live show if they end up touring away from their native Tennessee. Either way, the exciting punch of their music deserves a Golden Dollar from me all the way.