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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Homespun Double Review: Tight Pants Syndrome's All Alive and Whoa Thunder's You're Under Attack

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 8:19 AM

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[Editor's Note: For a change, this week's print edition features two Homespun reviews written by RFT Music Senior Writer Christian Schaeffer, because why not?]

Tom Stephens' long-running (and member-shuffling) power-pop combo Tight Pants Syndrome rarely lacks for material; in 2010 the quintet released the seventeen-track Fully Attractive alongside the more blustery Don't Panic EP. That year's output rivals some bands' entire catalogs. So while the appearance of more polished pop music from TPS is always welcome, this four-song EP feels a little scant by comparison, given the band's track record. (Don't worry: A full length is due by the year's end.)

The EP begins with a bang, as "Cherry Don't Quit" follows the formula of perpetual-motion music, but with a few new twists: The sawing strings give just the barest hint of baroque pop, and drummer Jeff Hess makes his vocal debut with the band. His voice gives an adenoidal but tuneful gruffness amid Jenn Malzone and Brian McClelland's more conventional harmonies. On the lead-off track, Hess proves an able pinchhitter on an already stacked lineup. Malzone and McClelland square off for the rest of the tracks, which contain some of same romantic snark as on the pair's work with Middle Class Fashion, albeit with more guitar, less piano and a lot more of McClelland's strong, high tenor. There are nuggets of pop bliss every 45 seconds on these overloaded songs -- note the Beach Boys-aping harmonies on "My Arm Hurts" -- but the formula-tinkering on "Cherry Don't Quit" is the real raison d'être for this little transmission.

[Continue to page two for the Whoa Thunder review.]

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