Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheap Time on Cass Records

Here I am saving the best for last from Cass Records, I finally got to spinning this last night. I think maybe because I just knew it would be perfect...
See... I get the fever when I listen to the dudes from Cheap Time. I get the rock and roll fever and I start thinking about cases of terrible beer from the gas station, T-top trans-am's, and peeling out in the school parking lot. If I had the chance I would recut the soundtrack to Dazed and Confused with Cheap Time, Hunx, Ty Segall, Bare Wires...and I mean it as a compliment...the same way that movie captured, in such a mythical, romantic way, that time period I think Cheap Time is doing the same thing musically.
It's not literally the same 'sounds' if you sat down and played that era against this one, but they capture that same feeling of no holds barred rock, the classic rock/garage fringe bands of the '70s maybe. The bad ass beginnings of rock.

A-Side's, "Another Time" has Jeff's main vocal real loud and upfront in the mix, a little distorted with smoother layers of singing underneath, all of course with that punchy, pure garage sound. Just that guitar tone is enough to make this recording, the brittle, thin sounding treble heavy sound gets even dirtier in the solo. They have to hold back a little bit and not show their whole hand to get away with something like this. Jeff sounds a little like"Pretty Vacant" Sex Pistols sentiment here, that similar cultural, anti authority whine...just here, it's not a commercial gimmick... and Cheap Time wasn't put together by some garage punk Barnum.
The track is about that endless search for something, being unsatisfied can be a good thing, to get you to excel and really push's also the same thing giving the Republican Right a base of support that doesn't want to tax the rich because, "that's going to be me someday. My 7 Inch record label will make millions....billions, and I don't want to give that to anybody" I didn't even mean to go down this road, but Cheap Time is that freaking deep. If I were in English class in high school I would carve this into my cloth trapper keeper, and then break into the main office to play this single on the loudspeaker like Rock and Roll High School.

The B-Side, "Immediate Future", has a Stylophone synth sound sound that punches right in on top of this layered guitar that makes perfect glam sense. Could they go a synth punk direction? Yes. You can hear the arm windmills, the big strums while Jeff delivers the vocal narrative in a low register attitude, barely humoring the harmony changes on this track. Proof that he just doesn't have a lazy go-to style to crank out the hits, it's pure innovation baby, every time.
Cheap Time reminds me how much you can do with 2 minutes, the incredible range of changes, you wouldn't know it from the initial punk structure.

And of course there's Cass packaging, I hope to god he actually found an old dot matrix printer and ran these paper sleeves right through them to get this front image. It's like those awesome homemade newsletters with publishing software from the Mac Classic. It's a testament to perception...if you could only see what they get away with on film sets sometimes. If it's not right in front of your face, it's barely slapped together. Maybe that's how we got to iphones because at first even the Atari looked freaking amazing. This picture of a living room with a drum kit might as well be a sweet Christmas card from 1982. On the reverse of this sleeve is that great broken typewriter font, and this says "No. 4 in the Cheap Time Singles Series"???
Jeff - what the fuck man? Did you start a shattered records club and I missed it? Where do I sign up? I want a lifetime subscription option to the Cheap Time single series. I don't care what it costs.

But enough already, I like the hell out of it. Get it from Cass Records. Cheap Time is a god damn national treasure.
Cheap Time
MAMA-057 "Another Time" b/w "Immediate Future"

Jeff Novak and the boys strike back with their most straightforward, no frills punk rock they've ever done. The Aussie influence on these songs is undeniable and Novak's guitar tone is as close as possible to the Saints' "I'm Stranded" without having to pay Ed Kuepper royalties. If you like the idea of Cheap Time but feel they sometimes overdo it or put too many weird tangents in their songs, just buy this single and enjoy. Consider this your "no tangent" guarantee!

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