Thursday, March 8, 2012

Terry Malts Does More Than Kill Time

Three members of the Morrissey-steeped indie pop band Magic Bullets have moved on. It wasn't planned, but it turned out to be a good thing.

They started a somewhat secretive side project to make a different kind of music. There were no interviews. They didn't share any news. No one knew where they were, who they were, or what they were doing.

Terry Malts emerges from a self-imposed stealth mode. 

It didn't take too long for people to discover who was behind the band. A sold-out six-song cassette and one 7-incher later, Terry Malts is shedding its aura of mystery and gaining real attention with a brand new sound that they describe as chainsaw pop.

Believe it or not, that’s all very accurate. Now they have a renewed opportunity to get away from over-thinking songs and finally let loose with some killer pop hooks and distortion-heavy guitars.

And the name Terry Malts? They picked it because it sounded good. It doesn't really mean anything, but it does convey their new easygoing attitude. It's evident in the music and videos too.

It didn't take long for the band to sign with noise pop’s ultimate label, Slumberland. Just in time too. Killing Time is 14 tracks featuring an explosive mix of melodic pop and punk. Sure, the genre is already bursting with similarly situated up-and-coming bands, but Terry Malts is different.

It's obvious they are in it to have fun. They don't want to try so hard anymore. And they never take themselves too seriously. Not one of the trio has any expectation whatsoever. If it sounds good, they play it.

One of them even said that they were trying to “get to their inner Trogg.”

After listening to Killing Time, I'm inclined to believe they found it. The lineup includes Corey Cunningham, guitar and backing vocals; Nathan Sweatt, drums and backing vocals; and Phil Benson, bass and lead vocals.

All are critical contributors to the band's ballsy sound. Cunningham lends some blistering guitar solos, Sweatt lays down a crashing beat, and Benson weaves it together with his rumbling bass and swoony, croony vocals. There are some influences too: Buzzcocks, Jesus and Mary Chain, and the Ramones.

All together, it makes for some true excitement, ensuring the album remains cohesive and consistently fresh. Each song is in your face, with the longest of them, I’m Neurotic, clocking in at a whopping 3:13 minutes stuffed with fuzzy power chords and crashing cymbals.

The lyrics seem to indicate that same devil may care attitude. Because after all, maybe we’re all neurotic.

“I’m neurotic, that’s what she says. I won’t let it go to my head, maybe she’s right.”

Joey Ramone would be pleased. He'd also like Where is the Weekend, a true punk song with a familiar theme of living for a couple days. The same can be said for Negative Approach’s Can’t Tell No One. While it's not as hard-hitting as the original, it still manages to bump things up a notch.

No, Sir, I’m Not A Christian makes a blunt, albeit quite catchy, religious statement. I’m No Good For You is as close as it gets to a punky ballad, evoking images of the Ramones’ I Want You Around in sound and in lyrics.  And the song I Do is simply gleeful and pulsating with nervous energy.

And last but not least, from the video above, Something About You is one of the strongest tunes on the album. It's drenched in fuzz and driving drums, daring anyone to sing along. You might want to sing along with all of them. There isn’t a weak track on the album, just a joyous collection of sincere, hopeful and energetic tunes.

Killing Time By Terry Malts Bangs A 6.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

If the band can manage to stay the course and retain their “let’s have fun” attitude, they’ll carve out a space for themselves in no time. It kind of makes me glad that the Magic Bullets are on permanent hiatus, but only because this is so good.

Right now, the band is touring their stomping grounds in Northern California. In April, they’ll kick off a U. S. tour in Texas. Watch for dates on Facebook. Killing Time by Terry Malts is up on iTunes. You can also find the album on Amazon or pick up the CD from Barnes & Noble.
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