Of the three minutes of the Wimbledon finals I watched on Sunday, I saw an interesting graphic. Roger Federer started the tournament with a serve speed of 100 mph. By the finals, his serve speed was up to a ridiculous 125 mph. He played several matches over several rounds, and at the end of it all, he was getting stronger. For someone who has to take a knee after going up a flight of stairs, this is quite a feat.
What does this have to do with music? I am so glad you asked, unnamed astute reader. Rin Tin Tiger’s EP last year was alt folk at its peak of bouncing energy. After doing multiple shows, starting a kickstarter page to record a follow up, and just being generally awesome DIY musicians of the digital age, they couldn’t possible recapture the same zest of their previous release could they?
Welcome to the Roger Federer of folk, just without the weird headband. The minute I put on their sophomore album, Toxic Pocketbook, I realized this is a group with a devastating serve that is getting faster as they go along. I would have been happy with more of the strongly strummed acoustic chords, harmonica, driving bass and drums and poetic lyrics. What I got was eight tracks of bottled kinetic energy trying desperately to escape its twenty-four minute jar and bouncing across the table.
The album kicks off on a torrid pace with “The Move Apart Parcel,” complete with an anthem to shout “Go!Go!” along with. “Pretty Looks” bobs along with the acoustic poppiness I remembered from a year ago before breaking into a cacophonous wall of sound in the last thirty seconds that makes me either want to a)buy a plane ticket to San Francisco just to see their live set or b)start a “Bring Rin Tin Tiger to Austin” page. The latter is much cheaper. That type of energy is infectious but hard to maintain, and the band knows how to pace itself with pensive ballads like “Oregon Yard” and “Funeral.” By the time Kevin Sullivan’s vocals and guitar picking on the self-titled track close out Toxic Pocketbook, you realize he along with his brother Sean and drummer Andrew Skewes-Cox are building something great and are not so quietly becoming one of the best bands you have never heard of.
Toxic Pocketbook comes out July 24th, but you can also check out their Bandcamp page and get acquainted to their music. You won’t be disappointed, and see if I’m crazy for comparing their music to a fuzzy Dunlop screaming through the air.
I hope not.