After a year of speculation, rambunctiously catchy punk act Latterman has broken up. Being a fan of three of the band's full-lengths (Turn Up the Punk, We'll Be Singing, No Matter Where We Go..! and â?¦We Are Still Alive), I was thoroughly bummed out by this announcement. Along with acts like Against Me! and Nakatomi Plaza, these guys provided me with some pro-unity, pro-rockin' jams.
In his online farewell address of sorts, bassist Matt Canino wrote that he was done with Latterman because of stress from touring, as well as from a new-found fanbase that reveled in violence and sexism, two very mook-tastic perspectives that Latterman did not agree with.
"I even got to a point where I stopped calling them out on it, and that just felt wrong. I was tired," he wrote. "Basically, it just stopped making sense for everyone in the band to keep on doing the band."
Unfortunately for Canino, but fortunately for his fans, the new Latterman spin-off act Shorebirds is sure to attract an even bigger audience. See, Shorebirds aren't just ex-Latterman; they're ex-Jawbreaker. Jawbreaker was well-known for having awesome bass lines (see "Big" from Bivouac, "Accident Prone" from Dear You), courtesy of Chris Bauermeister. The combination of Canino and Bauermeister proved so tantalizing to my brainy bits that I purchased Shorebirds' new self-released seven-inch via mailorder.
With four songs pressed into clear orange vinyl, Shorebirds is a tasty but all too short release. The EP picks up where Latterman left off, just with steadier tempos and drumming. Bauermeister is totally in step with Canino. The playing is pretty tight, with little space for solos or improvisation, and the lyrics continue Canino's personal takes on punk rock and life. In contrast to Latterman, they're much shorter, with far less guitar interplay than the stuff on, say, Turn Up the Punk, although "People I Live With" jams out a little bit.
Opening track "D.O.A." mirrors the weariness Canino mentioned in his post about Latterman breaking up. The lyrics deal with moving away and getting older: "And we're still waiting / for our friends to show up / We're always waiting" goes the chorus. There's no talk about setting back setbacks (to paraphrase Latterman's "Doom! Doom! Doom!"); it's just straight resignation.
The same goes for "Tinctures Are 90% Alcohol," "People I Live With" and "Down in Denver." They're all part of the story of Canino's move out west. Losing friends, wandering cities and quoting Bruce Springsteen ("It's hard to be a saint in the city") are spread throughout the seven-inch, which would be depressing were it not for the sweet, succulent instrumentation. Where "People I Live With" gets somber, "Down in Denver" rocks hard and fast to balance out its images of urban decay.
Shorebirds is a promising seven-inch, satisfying fans of Latterman and Jawbreaker while whetting their (and my) appetite for whatever comes next.