BARE MINIMUM, THE: Self-titled: CD

This Toronto band had me on their side for their first track, “Man of the People,” which started with a mid-tempo twangy punk guitar line and led into a rousing chorus of fist-raising group vocals almost on par with Against Me’s debut album. Sadly, things started to go to shit on the second track of this four song EP with a sudden influx of a nearly Hootie And The Blowfish level of optimism without a trace of punk energy or, god forbid, fury. It’s summertime in the Midwest and I’m a happy guy, but even in my current sunny state of mind, the “zippity do dah” vibe turned my stomach. They pull up the nose for a bit for the third track entitled “Off the Wagon,” which returns to a mid-tempo, vaguely Florida folk punk sound. On the fourth track things slow down and get sappy again. To make things far worse, they let another guy on lead vocal duties and he possess an insufferable, fucked-up pitch of a warble. So the scorecard says two songs that were on the good side of mediocre and two songs that annoyed the living christ out of me, which adds up to: avoid.

 –Jake Shut (TBM, thebareminimum.ca)