Romantic, driving, poetic rock’n’roll is tough. Tough to not be maudlin. Tough to not be cheesy. Tough to not rip off the intellectual property estates of Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young. Thoughtful, dynamic, evocative, story- and romance-driven punk is even tougher. Leatherface’s ghosts and fingerprints are on the edges of The Chantey Hook. But they’re leagues apart from a band that zips itself into a Leatherface suit as easily as a banker sleeves into a pressed shirt. I have a longtime respect for Seth Swaaley, the singer and principal songwriter of Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission, now Chantey Hook. As it is with any music-with-meaning, this CD benefits from close listens and read-alongs. If you take time with it, let the relationship build under moss-bricked bridges, during loose-cylinder drives, when “the struggle’s always near, but the party’s always on,” that’s when The Chantey Hook shares. It won’t give you everything on the first time around the block. It’s not that easy. The gift The Chantey Hook delivers in four songs is nothing short of that reminder that humans make music and music can sometimes be wonderfully redemptive. “We’ll get there, but we ain’t there just yet.”

 –todd (, [email protected])