Release Date: Nov 11, 2013
Record label: Mint Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk
Most bands that look to rock & roll's past for their sonic inspiration tend to write lyrics that lean in a similar direction, but thankfully, Jarrett K. of Vancouver's Tough Age is more imaginative than that. On their self-titled debut album, Tough Age take a rough and ready approach to sounds of the 1960s, mixing up surf music and garage rock, filtering them through first-era punk, and coming up with a sound that's echoey and evocative while still coming off tough and full of sinewy attitude.
Strumming a few chords and slapping a coat of reverb on them seems to be enough for some bands these days. They’re a dime a dozen…make that a nickel a dozen. Well, if you’re playing garage rock you better have a certain je ne sais quoi, or prepare to remain garaged. The members of Tough Age know their way around a pop song or two, having all done time in local bands like Apollo Ghosts and Korean Gut.
Tough Age is a garage-punk outfit fronted by Vancouver’s Jarrett K (formerly of Korean Gut) with Penny Clark on guitar, Lauren Smith on bass and Chris Martell on drums. The tunes are raucous and high-energy if not especially groundbreaking, with standouts such as “Coffin Foam” and “Have You Seen Her” providing plenty of lo-fi hooks and rhythmic oomph for listeners to hold on to. There’s more than a dash of the Ramones here, both in Jarrett’s vocal stylings and the ’50s-era melodies and song structures of a tune like “The Heart of Juliet Jones”.
Wading through the overflowing pool of reverb-heavy, doo-wop heaving, ’60s riffing indie garage rocks has been like fumbling from the kiddie end into the 6 ft. mark. It ain’t quite as fun as that first cannonball.