The Cheats – Pussyfootin! (03 July 2012, Screaming Crow Records)
So I’d just like to go on the record as stating, holidays in the middle of the week are kinda stupid. Basically it’s like having a weekend, but it’s only one day: all day long there’s that feeling of dread that’s usually associated with Sundays, where it feels nice because you aren’t working, but you know you can’t really do anything especially crazy because you have to be up early the next morning to go back to work.
Lots of holidays are specifically designed to coordinate with your weekend — Memorial Day and Labor Day are on Mondays; Easter is on Sunday but most people get off work the Friday before it; and Thanksgiving is always a Thursday, but if you’re lucky that ends up turning into a four-day weekend.
Some of the other major holidays that could fall on any day of the week (because they have a specific date) can be flexible too: there’s New Years Eve, New Years Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, and usually it works out to where those holidays end up adjacent to a weekend, or you at least get both days off so it’s like having a second weekend anyway.
However, tomorrow (Wednesday) is the 4th of July, when we Americans celebrate our Independence Day because that was the date (two-hundred-thirty-some years ago) that some folks had signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain. While that was generally regarded as a good thing (people weren’t real happy about the way they were paying a whole bunch of taxes to the king while feeling like they weren’t really getting much in return), as a holiday it’s only significant enough to justify one day off work. That means, when it ends up being on a Wednesday, I get to be all excited to leave work on Tuesday (today), knowing that I’ll get a break the next day… but that excitement will be short-lived because Wednesday (tomorrow) I’ll realize that there’s still two days left in the week and I have to come back.
But all that seems pretty depressing, and I guess I should try to think positive: no matter what day of the week it is, it’s always better to have one day off than zero days! So, fuck it. I’m going to resolve to take advantage of the time I have, however short it may be, and enjoy myself tonight and tomorrow.
But, in order to have a good time, that would also require some good music, right? Naturally. Well, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered, and I’ll gladly tell you all about it…
Just released today through Screaming Crow Records, Pittsburgh punk rockers The Cheats‘ third full-length studio album Pussyfootin! has actually been several years in the making. From what I understand, scheduling conflicts with producer Eric Klinger (who actually ended up moving to Europe at some point during the recording process) left the band putting most of the material to tape themselves (in guitarist Eric Wrecker‘s home studio), then having the arranging and mixing done overseas while communicating back and forth via email. Although the process was called “a nightmare” by Wrecker’s co-guitarist Mark Serpico, the final result doesn’t show any evidence of the disjointedness or innumerable delays the project had to endure.
However, what it does show is how difficult it is to capture the raw energy of a band like this in a studio recording. I think it’s a pretty common problem with the majority of punk rock music, but especially when you’re talking about a band like The Cheats, whose larger-than-life personality and chaotic live performances have become legendary around the local area.
Which is not to say it isn’t an excellent quality album! I just think that to truly appreciate a band like this, you owe it to yourself to check out one of their shows around town, if at all possible, or perhaps one of their upcoming gigs supporting former Misfits frontman Michale Graves (full details on that tour will be published on this blog very shortly).
But no, what we have here are thirteen very well-crafted songs — intelligent but without ever taking themselves too seriously, so along the lines of stuff written by someone like Social Distortion or Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Probably another reason those two particular comparisons come to mind might also have to do with gravelly-throated frontman Todd Porter (who, prior to forming this band, had previously found renown as a member of Silver Tongued Devil).
Over the span of about three-quarters of an hour, you’ll be treated to plenty of rock’n'roll swagger and a healthy dose of fist-pumping adrenaline, as the band delivers their tales of downtroddenness (“Broken Creeper”) or loss and despondency (“Sober Days, Wasted Nights”). While they sometimes seem to try to keep an optimistic outlook about bad situations turning better (“Gotta Get Away”), the main theme here seems to reflect the fact that sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands to make improvements (“So Long Sucker,” which involves revenge against someone who has wronged you, or the somewhat doo-wop inspired “I Don’t Need You,” which features a similar outcome, but sounds more like the internal monologue of a deranged stalker for whom things end badly with the object of his obsession).
Since shout-along and sing-along choruses abound here (particularly in the closing track “Star Tattoo,” an extremely catchy song which features a female guest vocalist and horn section on the record), you’ll want to make sure to grab this album to learn all the words — for example, from “Life’s Short”:
Hell has frozen over
And the shit has hit the fan
We’re going through the motions,
Singing “Catch me if you can.”
We’re heading for an encore
Then we’re skipping out of town
The show is nearly over, listen:
“Life’s short, let’s fuck.”
Then you’ll be all ready if you get the chance to experience these guys live!
Order your copy of Pussyfootin! right here – you can buy the CD, but for only $25 (including shipping) they have a special package deal that includes the CD as well as a t-shirt, sticker, patch, and button!
Or, just wait till this Friday and catch the CD release show at the Altar Bar — see the Facebook event for details.