Rin Tin Tiger-Splinter Remedies
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Rin Tin Tiger’s city knows a thing or two about homely, from the ground up, started from the bottom now we’re at the top (Drake’s got nothing on me) beginnings. The band is no exception. With the release of their third studio album, Splinter Remedies, Rin Tin showcases their musical chemistry and ability in a way that can only be obtained through years of hard work and diligence in the city of San Francisco.
Self releasing the album on August 20th, 2013, the band has come a long way from their humble beginnings at San Francisco State University. Their alt-folk sound has been presented and perfected in many different forms all leading up to this glorious record. A splendid mixture of Dylan and Cash-esque folk stylings with a light touch of indie angst, (think Pixies meets Violent Femmes), Splinter Remedies proves that Rin Tin is much more than a simple folk band. Spanning thirty-five minutes over twelve songs, the band offers a little for everyone on this record. A far cry from the simple folk structures of "Greedy Traveler" and the upbeat, and at times sullen, tunes found on Toxic Pocketbook, Splinter Remedies is a much more concentrated effort. Song structures are tighter, the songs themselves are quite varied and a destructive dark element has been added to their sound. An aspect not common in a band of their genre.
The opening title track “Splinter Remedies” begins the album where Toxic Pocketbook left off, upbeat, folky and energetic. Complete with a rowdy group sing along of “TIMBER!” near the end of it all. Drummer Andrew Skewes-Cox backs the group powerfully while keeping the overall sound light and splashy. His snare/kick work, combined with bass player Sean E. Sullivan’s fat, rounded bass tones, combine for a backing section very similar to the main act at Seaworld. Fat, round, splashy, yet extremely dangerous (go see Blackfish). The dynamics between these two are demonstrated in full effect during the bridge of the second track “Spit.” It's a thunderous mid-tempo song that slowly breaks out into a soaring chorus, complete with flying hi-hat work. During the bridge Skewes-Cox and E. Sullivan complement each other perfectly, starting and stopping in perfect unison as singer, guitarist and brother Kevin Sullivan croons over the hardships of being a musician “It's a waste of my time trying/to humor those that would hate me either way.”
The single for the record, released months prior to the album, “Talkin’ Good Woman” takes a note straight out of 1950’s country/folk. K. Sullivan once again touches on the troublesome life of a musician, this time in pursuit of love. “I’m gonna love you true/what else can a poor man do?” His guitar remains light and twangy, as a good folk guitar should, throughout the entirety of the album. This remains entirely relevant, not to mention showcased exceptionally in the finger picking diddly “Aluminum.” It brings to mind a warm summer’s day on a round green hill encompassed by the bright blue sky smiling down at you from above. A song about the peace that can’t be brought after heartache, “Aluminum” is by far one of the standout tracks on the album.
The band takes a different turn two songs deep, as the powerful “Michelangelo” begins. Beginning with a serene finger picked guitar, the listener is soon tricked and thrown to the ground in a brutal tonal attack of the senses. The closest thing to a punk song on the album, Rin Tin takes a big leap of faith within their ability and their fans on this song and it is executed perfectly. Bringing to mind the intensity of Refused or Hot Snakes the technically ability of the band comes into full effect during the songs chaotic bridge. Going from the zany twisted mess of E. Sullivan’s bass, dancing between the overheard clang of a distant bell, to the crashing onslaught of guitar and drums that smoothly transitions back into the chorus.
The closing track “Precaution” continues this darker sound, complete with E. Sullivan’s bass furthering the chaos heard on “Michelangelo.” Going from a similar tangled head bobbing progression that holds up the strong dissonance of K. Sullivan’s guitar, to huge down pressing hits that pummel the listener. The climax of the song takes place as the instruments slowly die out, leaving a lone twinkling guitar darkly caressing K. Sullivan’s morbid words: “Sleeping like a brown mouse in a bar/dreaming of the owl and his arms.” Bringing a strong connection to the mind of Frank Black and The Pixies, the song ends in a fuzzed out free for all, very unlike anything the band has done before. Making the listener take a step back to reconsider if what they just heard really is a folk album, or something much more dark and complex.