Bands just don’t make music like this anymore.
Typically, when I get sent music by a new band, I tend to listen to it with my headphones on, so as not to disturb anyone in case the music takes a turn for the worse. I should have known better when I listened to Cut Teeth’s Televandalism EP. After all, the band contains members of The Felix Culpa, Monday’s Hero, Red Knife Lottery and Stay Ahead of the Weather.
Halfway through the first track, “Who Is Thomas Driscoll?,” the headphones were unplugged and I was blasting the album through my tower speakers. This is music meant to be played loud. The opener contains everything you could possibly want from ‘90s- and early ’00s-inspired punk rock: riff-driven guitars, heavy drums, and coarse vocals. Vocalist/guitarist Dustin Currier (The Felix Culpa) shouts with a force that would scare the “singers” of all the recent punk bands that attempt to reach the sound that Cut Teeth so effortlessly captures, and the twin-guitar attack of Currier and Dan Yingling (Red Knife Lottery) is superb, meshing together elements of their previous bands with an amped-up punk attitude.
“Dessert Vines,” is driven by an intro riff, which seems to be the 21st-century punk equivalent to Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” layered over Currier’s hushed singing. Currier and Yingling admirably manage to craft separate riffs in the chorus that combat each other perfectly without becoming overpowering. Also worth mentioning is Matt Jordan’s drumming near the end of the track. For a musician previously known for his guitar playing, Jordan more than manages to hold his own on the drums.
The droning “Gossip Choir” and the propulsive “Stone Of Yap,” make up the middle of the album. One of the best things about Cut Teeth is that it isn’t merely a band trying to recapture what the members’ previous bands did, but that it strives to create its own sound. This is displayed particularly well on this pairing of tracks. “Gossip Choir” and “Stone Of Yap” make for an interesting couple of songs, with the former being a showcase for Currier and his excellent vocals, especially near the end of the track, at a fairly slow pace, whereas the latter runs at breakneck speed, featuring some great backing vocals from bassist/backing vocalist Kyle Johns (Monday’s Hero). The riffs from Currier and Yingling are the “stars” of the track, showcasing experimentation not often found in the genre. Currier and Johns take turns shouting “Don’t change a thing,” near the end. I’d like to relay that message back to the band.
My personal favorite on the album is “Blood Under the Bridge,” which features some incredible backing vocals from Johns that complement Currier’s leads perfectly. The chorus, which is led in by a great drum beat by Jordan, is my favorite part of the record. It showcases some enormous riffs (if you haven’t picked this up yet, Currier and Yingling are pretty great at playing their guitars) reminiscent of early Cursive and At the Drive-In. If you’re a fan of punk, I challenge you to try and not love this track. Televandalism closes with “Disappeared Like Dinosaurs,” which begins with a drone of feedback and a groove-driven beat by Jordan, as well as some great lead vocals from Currier. The bass-heavy track thrives as an ending track, complete with fantastic vocals from Currier and a thumping bass-line from Johns, thunderous drums, great riffs and some “Woahs,” which one might not come to expect from such heavy music.
A couple of days ago, I tweeted “If you can listen to @cutteethband’s EP and not go apeshit raging over it, you probably either don’t like music or don’t have a pulse.” I stand by this statement. Not only is this the best EP I’ve listened to so far this year, but it’s the best piece of music. I can’t say enough good things about Cut Teeth. Go buy the record, put it on a CD and play it at the highest of volumes. You’ll thank me.