Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chain Letters on Pogo Time Records

The Chain Letters are Sophia Dilley on vocals, Chris Parker on guitar, Johnny Bubblegum on bass and Violet X on drums. I remember there was a time in the early naive band days of 7 inches when he didn't know you could just come up with a cool name for yourself and make it real in the liner notes. It had never occurred to him that you could just have an awesome name like Johnny Bubblegum by deciding one day that was your name. I'm not saying he didn't legally change it, but when people start using aliases like this it references a weighty punk history from the four Ramones brothers to Jay Reatard himself. It also says it doesn't really matter who the real person is, you don't need to friend them on Facebook or find their linked in profile, this is punk rock. Nameless punk without a website, just barely a soundcloud page. Not that you should hold that against them, they spend their time obviously refining brief bursts of pop punk and pressing records, getting back to basics and the things that matter. Funny band member names, seven inches and punk.

On "Bad Reflection" Sophia isn't trying to overcompensate with her deliberate, measured vocal, getting just barely snotty with a little bit of echo as this track takes off. In the way that Midnite Snaxxx are out in the parking lot setting fire to dumpsters, Chain Letters are laying out this bubblegum pop garage like Hunx with a more polished bite. It's moved from the garage to the wood gymnasium to see how quickly they can push this out before the plug is pulled. The raw surface level emotions are here in seeing an ex and wanting to get in your car and drive away. I know the feeling. Thick power chords with that deceptive stop before the car goes all the way over the cliff. Catchy as possible and sounding in complete control but not so polished that it's unapproachable.

B-Side's "Boulevard Girls" comes in with a gunning snare roll and crunchier guitars. Sophia is more melodic on this side working on this weird phrasing in the chorus that goes deeper than party punk. Like So Cow's Girl Racer, it's powering through this odd timing that completely makes the track with an almost not so serious edge. This sneering attitude that's just smart enough for it's own good. The way the Buzzcocks could get away with basically way too catchy pop, these guys have managed the same sort of respectable balance.

Good to see the mention on the sleeve about freeing Pussy Riot. It worked.

You can get this on interpunk or Sorry State Records.

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