Punk rock, and all related genres, seems to be stuck in an arrested development. So many songs are sung as a way to either hearken back to perceived halcyon days, or else they are made as a direct challenge to the idea of being an adult. Some of the best bands have made entire careers on this kind of thing. Even going back to the Ramones. There was a concept of not wanting to grow up. Or, rather, not wanting to be a grown up. Twin Cities kind of tackle this same theme on The Things You Say You Just Went Through. It’s an interesting take on a pretty worn troupe.
Twin Cities is a two piece band out of Wichita, KS. As such, they play a sound that has a lot of Midwestern flavor to it. They have a pretty solid mixture of Midwestern punk, indie rock, and a slight hint of emo. “Settling For Second Best” definitely has some emo influenced guitars in the chorus. “Black Box” has it in the verses. Otherwise, The Things You Say You Just Went Through is a melodic indie/punk played with a certain level of abandon. It’s not an abrasive record, it’s not a particularly heavy record. But it plays like a record made by a duo. It’s not sloppy, I suppose. It’s certainly not polished either. This may not work for everyone. I can definitely see some people not digging the structure, or lack thereof. It’s a very loose record. Very enjoyable, but definitely loose.
Touching back on the lyrical content, there is a lot to like. They are, again, treading pretty worn ground. They do enough to keep it interesting though. “Black Box” seems to be about trying to reconcile your past. More being stuck in the place where you want to get away from it, but still want it to mean something in the grander scheme of things. “Belmont Hills” feels like it’s about adult life not measuring up to what a child’s idea of “adulthood” is. As a whole, the record’s overall theme of growing up is touched upon. Be it the desire to do it, or the desire to not. There is a lot of tackling the issues of adulthood here. Being unsure of the future, and getting caught in the past.
Twin Cities have done quite a bit for themselves since they’ve been around. They’ve already had a few releases out. The Things You Say You Just Went Through is not a huge departure from what has come before, but has a more electric, raucous feel to it. I give them a lot of credit. It’s a daunting task to do something different than you usually do. Adventuring outside your comfort zone should always be rewarded.
BandCamp / Buy It
Mixing the gruffness of Midwest pop punk with a liberal helping of Samiam-esque sense of melody and structure, Bike Tuff have produced a really solid LP. Into Shores is a record that fires on all cylinders from the get go. “Each Purling Note” opens the record with a pretty straight forward punk rock song. While it is pretty by the books, it still serves as a great introduction.
The band stays really solid through the next song “Oak St. Market.” This song shows the more melodic part of what the band is working with. In fact, that is the interesting part of the record from the start. It jumps around between straight ahead punk rock songs and more melodic, slower passages. Like, “This Canada House Is Not A Home” is very straight forward punk riffing. It sticks pretty close to the Epi-Fat melodic hardcore of days past. Then, on the other hand, we have songs like “Baby, You’re An Anarchist” and “Sweet Berry Wine.” They are less piss and vinegar type punk songs, and more spacious and melodic. This isn’t to say they are emo songs or whatever, though the guitars DO twinkle a bit. They are much more pop influenced songs.
Basically, there is a little bit here for everyone. While the band draws from various influences, it never makes the record too disjointed. I can see this record appealing to The Fest crowd as much as the Warped Tour crowd. This is both positive and negative, I guess. While it has mass appeal, it doesn’t really stick out as anything great. As a punk rock record, Into Shores gets the job done. As a band, Bike Tuff show a lot of promise. I don’t know, I just feel like something is missing here.
Just in time for Chicago fall and winter, Joie De Vivre have a new record. After breaking up for a brief span of time, they are back with a fantastic record. We’re All Better Than This doesn’t stray too far from what the band has done previously. Nothing on this record would sound too out of place on their prior releases, but it isn’t just the same old thing either.
The style this band plays is certainly rich in history. When people discuss this band there is always a comparison to legendary bands of yore. Invariably someone will name drop Mineral, American Football, and Colossal. These are all fair references, but that has to be tiresome. There is the occasional guitar twinkle, trumpet flourishes, and a nice mix if Midwest emo and indie rock. If that sounds like your thing, fuck reading this and go get the record.
There is something about this record that just appeals to me. It is filled to the brim with the angst and bitterness of being in your mid to late twenties. That weird place where you know you could have done things differently, possibly better, but shit just didn’t pan out. It can be a depressing thing to think about, but it is how it goes. Especially when everyone else you know has gone to college and are seemingly stoked on everything. Songs like “I Guess Not” and “That Dude Leads A Depressing Life” convey this kind of idea quite well. The former being more positive, the latter being a touch more cynical.
Another running theme on this record is the backwards looking regret. “Robert Muldoon” touches on that topic quite well:
“I used to drive across the entire state just to see you every weekend,
and I rolled the windows down because I was afraid of falling asleep.
I regret everything about that year
I regret everything about that year.”
I honestly can’t thing of a record that better describes and explains the weird weltschmerz that comes with being in your mid-twenties. I don’t know, man.
I honestly can’t get enough of this record. As much as I enjoy The North End and Summer Months, I think We’re All Better Than This might be their best record yet. This is a great example of an emo record that rises beyond the genre. If you don’t get this, you’re totally missing out. Everyone talks about summer albums, well this is the fall record of the year.
Joie De Vivre
Count Your Lucky Stars
strictly no capital letters
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (sncl)
NOTE: These guys are playing with Kind Of Like Spitting in Chicago next week. So bummed about having to miss that.