The Black Tie Bombers (affectionately known as BTB) are a four-piece from Cincinnati that combine fun, fast melodic skatepunk with the emotion of hardcore and the melody and sensibility of pop-punk to make one of the best records of 2007.
Yet the serious themes that drew me to this CD are juxtaposed by moments of hilarity and laughter. Take the album's intro: animals on the farm. When BTB was recording this album in the fall of last year they documented the process. The rooster crowing is in fact an Ewok doll that the band obsesses over throughout the recording and makes me laugh every time I listen to it. Personally I like every song on the record, as each one has a catchy guitar riff as well as a lively sharing of the vocal duties by the two guitarists, Josh Mlot and Jon Lewis, and bassist Ryan Rockwell. The bass is mixed in very well and helps to move the song by intertwining with the galloping drum beat. The lead guitar parts are particularly catchy and recall NOFX as well as adding complexity to the songs. Jon Lewis can go from a gruff yell to a melodic croon and Josh Mlot's vocals recall Rehasher, while Rockwell's all-out snottiness is a counterbalance to the more melodic tendencies of the other two vocalists.
The band's greatest strength is its ability to combine hardcore, pop-punk, and melodic punk. From the pure hardcore 13 seconds of "Stairway to Heaven" to the pop-punky goodness of "Girl I Want to Mess Up Your Hair," Eternal Happiness and Good Health demands repeat listens. The lyrics are also a step up from this band's previous works (Black Tie Bombers and Art Is Easy) and are much more in-depth, including personal stories carrying a positive message of perseverance.
For example, take this line from "The Return to Mohawk Valley" off of Art Is Easy: "The words are on the tip of my tongue dying to come home. Privileged enough to have a voice but things are different now. But we the privileged take it all for granted. Shut your fucking mouth. And we all now how it happens," compared to "East vs. West" from this album: "Tonight I'll be all alone, struggling just to stay awake and save myself from making all the same mistakes. Tonight I'll call you again and spend an evening with my friends. And try to forget all of the could-have-beensā?¦" Not only are the songs more mature and introspective, but the music is more complicated and ultimately better.
As well, the band's live show is full of passion, energy, and precision befitting the catchiness of their music. Hopefully Pink Ring Records will give their record the push it deserves because by the third listen I was hooked and you definitely will be too.