Title Fight – Shed
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Record Label: Side One Dummy
I'd like to take this opportunity to reintroduce Title Fight to the punk rock community. You see, despite releasing a handful of 7 inches and EP's, the band never seems to be one of the first bands mentioned among the “new wave” of pop-punk bands. While some of those bands have decided to amp up their sound to bigger and faster standards, the boys from Kingston, PA, decided hop into the punk rock DeLorean for their proper debut album, Shed. The twelve tracks on Shed shy away from the hooky pop-punk sound and settles into a more melodic hardcore groove – taking inspiration from classic acts like Lifetime and Shook Ones. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as they worked with legendary producer, Walter Schreifels, who was no doubt a major influence on the overall sound.
It's fair to say that a lot of their older fans will be disappointed with Shed after initial listens, but the consistency and cohesiveness of the album will eventually make permanent residency in your head Sure faster songs are easier to digest, and this album still features those type of songs. Look no further than “Coxton Yard,” “Your Screen Door,” and “You Can't Say Kingston Doesn't Love You.” But it's the slower, more complete tracks like “Crescent-Shaped Depression” that will keep your attention over the long term. The track balances the past and the future of the band perfectly – infectious hooky energy with a mature mid-tempo pace that buzzes in and out.
Jamie Rhoden's strained vocals take the lead throughout Shed, minimizing the dual-vocal approach heard frequently on The Last Thing You Forget. This isn't a bad thing, as Rhoden shreds through the album, such on the raucous title track or the gritty “Flood of '72,” which shows off the abrasive rhythm stylings of drummer Ben Russin and bassist Ned Russin. The dual-vocal attack is used perfectly on “Stab,” which was born to be screamed along to live, while “Society” manages to show off some nice guitar leads from Shane Moran in less than a minute and a half.
Title Fight tear through Shed and get their message across in just under a half hour, proving they can just be as frantic and urgent as ever while also expanding their sound. “GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)” is the perfect example of this. It begins with sludgy guitar tones and slowly builds into a pulverizing chorus. It's quite simply the most intense and engaging the band has ever been, and closes Shed brilliantly. While the album drags in some places (“Safe In Your Skin” being the main offender), Shed is the right album for those who don't want their pop-punk bands opting for breakdowns. Rhoden croons,“Maybe there's nothing/only this moment,” on the near-perfect alt-rock of “Where Am I?,” and it serves as a testament from Title Fight that they much rather grab their chance at making something worthwhile than becoming the next big thing.
Thought this record was a tad boring the first time I listened to it. I've given it about sixty spins since then and I'm completely in love. But yes, Safe in Your Skin is probably not going to grow on me any time soon.
I disagree with the opening statement, though. I have always considered Title Fight to be one of the most popular of the pop-punk revivalists. I've only been listening to them since like February, but I've been hearing about them for years. I couldn't get away from the name Title Fight, so I finally checked them out. And thank fuck that I did.