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Cheap Time – Self-titled

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

In the Red Records, 2008

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.

Cheap Time do have a MySpace page, but the good man at Power Pop Overdose gives you a chance to check out this whole record for yourself!  You should think about doing this.

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.

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(I Couldn’t) Resist the Temptation: Accumulation

January 13, 2011 2 comments

See, that pile doesn’t look so bad.  Unfortunately, combined with many other piles of CDs, as well as two full racks with seven shelves, I’m a bit swamped with music to listen to.  Now wait, don’t think I don’t want to be this way.  I enjoy this state of easy access to some pretty good music.  However, with discs pouring over onto various surfaces and out of hidden tuckaways, I am finding that this collection of mine is getting a little out of hand.  Not to mention the evil eyes I’m getting from a certain beautiful loved one is beginning to cause some doubts.  I guess I need to face the fact that I’m a music-collecting monger.

What should I do about this?  Currently my feeble ideas are to listen to each album, give it a quick judgment and either send it on its way or lovingly place it back into its permanent slot in a rack.  Problem is, most of them are ending up back on the rack.  Hold on, problem?!  I am merely guilty of adding to a music collection that will entertain me for years to come!  That said, how often do I listen to all of those Nirvana albums I accumulated during college?  Practically never.  I know I was big into the Squirrel Nut Zippers once, but have I recently gotten into a big band swinging mood?  Not really.  At some point one must consider purging artists that, though quite good and deserving of ownership, may have to go and merely live on in one’s memory.

I have given some thought as to how I continue to accumulate music.  A few confessions come to mind …

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The Loved Ones – Build & Burn

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Fat Wreck Chords, 2008

Punk records from the past decade can be a gamble in regards to quality, mainly because that quality is often lacking.  However, I had heard a few tracks from the Loved Ones debut record and vaguely recall liking them.  With a gritty looking black and white digipak, as well as inclusion on the generally entertaining Fat Wreck Chords label, I figured this was worth a cheap spin.  I did notice belatedly that the inside cover band picture showed four pretty clean cut guys.  In hindsight, that might have served as a warning.

The Loved Ones second record is what one might expect from a punk label; there is little chance to catch one’s breath throughout.  The opener of “Pretty Good Year” gets right into it with the clashing guitars, pounding drums, and strained vocals.  In a bit of a punk twist, it turns out to be the shortest track in just over two minutes.  Subsequent high speed rockers, like “The Inquirer”, “Sarah’s Game”, and “3rd Shift” take it a bit longer in the usual modern style.

Unlike other pop punk groups, the Loved Ones periodically take time to slow things down once in awhile.  “The Bridge” is such a track given its seemingly personal nature, which can either intrigue a listener or make them wonder where the fist pumping went.  The Loved Ones also go all sensitive on the listener in “Brittle Heart” and “Selfish Masquerade”, the former of which actually sounds quite good in its composition for a toned down rock song.  The cards are shown in regards to the Loved Ones’ preference of versatility when they actually end their punk record with a cover of All-4-One’s “I Swear”.  Okay, I’m kidding, but that’s the name of the song and I think the cover would’ve been a better idea than what their version actually ended up being.

Though it’s easy to quickly go through this record without getting too annoyed, the one track that stands out as a bit much is “Louisiana”.  For one, these guys are from Philadelphia.  Secondly, the lyrics are incredibly repetitive with “They’re pounding nails in Louisiana” with little explanation as to why the Loved Ones care.  Is it some kind of old slavery or criminal anecdote?  Are these guys really into Louisiana construction?  Finally, the song typically builds from quiet to a rousing end … with the repetitive lyrics.  Other songs can be dealt with, but this one got the eyes rolling.

If you need a quick punk fix, check out the Loved Ones’ MySpace page and website (which is just a link to their MySpace page … zzzz) if you gotta.

I can’t imagine a time when punk rock, or pop punk for that matter, will ever dissolve into a genre that is no longer sought after.  I suppose the same could be said for heavy metal and country music, so with the few great bands that lead a genre for a few years there will be a ton of bands that fit the sound but don’t stand out.  The Loved Ones are such a band, for though they bring everything that punk rockers should (energy, volume, speed, etc) they don’t create anything that is unique or incredibly interesting.  That’s okay I suppose, because sometimes all one wants to hear is the same kind of stuff and get on with their day.  I just wish it didn’t have to be the tired pop punk sound we’ve heard in recent years.