Gracious, this LP is fantastic and is a natural extension of the still-played-all-time-at-HQ Front Seat Solidarity. Don’t let the words “folk punk” steer you to improper conclusions. It’s not wimpy, patchouli-soaked creakiness with tattoos and a half-assed sneer. It’s peppy, quick paced punk-informed music that seems to be “of the folks,” you know, working class, hard thinking, hard drinking, hard-dancing stuff that doesn’t get old, blasting from a stereo or in front of a camp fire. Think of a mix between Phil Ochs, the best old storyteller you’ve ever come across, be it a diner or a crazy uncle, and callused hands punk, like The Dead Things. Three Way Tie for a Fifth even manages to expand on the dance-along melodies and the rough and tumbley tag team vocals that are This Bike Is A Pipebomb’s cornerstones. No where is it more apparent in “The Ballad of Sonny Liston,” an epic of a song full of unexpected transitions, quiet laments, and a hell of a tale. Topically, musicians of all stripes could learn from TBIAP. Their lyrics are so far away from the clichés and vague self-absorption that often hollow out otherwise good songs. There are first-person narratives of a protagonist killing his family so when he gets to heaven, it’ll be a nicer place. There are two songs about boxers, lighting up some history along the way—from Sonny Liston being killed by the mob to Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion whose winning of the title from a white man triggered “the worst race riot this country has ever seen.” That’s the stuff. Anything that simultaneously makes me laugh, smile, and think while clapping along will always get a huge endorsement.
–todd ($5, ppd. Plan-It-X)