Tender Defender - Tender Defender (Cover Artwork)

Tender Defender

Tender Defender (2016)

Dead broke REkerDS

You can’t mention Tender Defender, the new project from Mattie Jo Canino, Phil Douglas and Pat Shramm without the word Latterman.

Not only were all three members of the widely influential and beloved Long Island pop punk quartet, but this release (being dubbed a “Mini-LP”) is as much a successor to Latterman as it is a sign of immense growth of the three artists that make up the backbone of the band.

It has to be said that, on the surface, this album sounds an awful lot like a Latterman record. Not an Iron Chic record, a Bridge and Tunnel record or a RVIVR record, a LATTERMAN record. With infectious guitar hooks building a comfortable frame for anthemic and instantly catchy lyrics sung with Canino’s signature howl (with a few gang vocals thrown in for good measure) and a drum beat that comes across and equal points urgent and playful, the tone is entirely familiar in the absolute best way possible. Instant youth anthem classics Hello Dirt and f.e.f.e. reflect the absolute best of what Latterman was: straight ahead, melodic punk rock with lyrics that inspire and incise.

However, when you look just a pinch below the surface you start to see what makes this record truly special. This isn’t just an ersatz Latterman record, but it is an ode to everything that band was. Clearly meant to be listened to in one sitting, the five tracks interlock to create a dense, immersive audio tale that invites you, exposes you to a wide range of emotions and leaves you feeling absolutely invincible. It’s one thing to write new songs that sound an awful lot like your old ones, and another to perfectly recreate all of the personal, relatable and entirely human ways that band touched people in the first place.