Let me say it again. God damn.
This is punk rock done right.
Let me set the stage for you. A shimmering sample of "Old Yeller" gives way to a light, sparse guitar intro. Then the guitar schreeches, the snare drum hits, and all the instruments rocket in. You hear Davey's guttural yelp of "A family of five I saw burn alive/And all that's left is the blood on the highway" and every band member rocking out to the max. Around this point your head implodes from expiriencing nearly unprecedented amounts of rockage. It's colossal.
I have to admit, I didn't see this coming from a long way. Tiltwheel's earlier 7"s and splits were... well, only slightly above average at best. I mean, they weren't bad, just not something that you'd go out of your way to own. However, we here see almost unrivaled passion and intensity. This is a vital album, too important not to be heard by the punx.
Influences and comparisons are hard to pick out. Generally, the music is punk rock by way of The Broadways, Jawbreaker (but if the former had song structure and heavier than the latter) and the like, but is in a category all of it's own. These are ten very original songs. Even the cover, "Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)" (originally by Icicle Works) sounds totally fresh and new, and lyrically it falls into the same vein as Tiltwheel. In the opening of "Al Quint Is An Emo Pussy", whats this? A beautiful piano introduction over guitar feedback! This album manages to be hard rocking and devoid of any and all pretention yet still have an arty quality to it. This is something that very few modern bands have achieved.
Why don't more bands have the ability to combine catchy, happy-sounding music with depressing lyrics? It works so well and seems so simple in theory, yet Tiltwheel is one of the few bands that can pull it off. Just a few of the topics covered here are remorse ("Song That Used To Be Called Aaron's Song") drinking ("All I Care About Is Me, My Rum and You") and being remorseful about drinking ("2:07 AM"). At first a glance at the lyric sheet may remind you of a cookie-cutter emo band, but Davey's gruff, catharsisy, Gunmoll-esque voice truly breathes life into the words.
Davey's life depends on music; be it creating music or listening to that created by others, and this shines throughly with crystal clarity on this record unlike anything Tiltwheel has done. If you get to see them live, there is so much sadness and passion behind every chord that (to paraphrase Razorcake) its like his heart is connected directly to his amplefier.
I cannot emphasize enough how excellent this album is. There are very few other bands I have ever been this excited about. The record has been glued to my turntable since it first arrived in the mail a month ago.
[I wrote the original version of this review for ihatemusic.org.]