Nine Eighteen - Twelve Fluid Ounces (Cover Artwork)

Nine Eighteen

Twelve Fluid Ounces (2018)


Nine Eighteen have been playing New Jersey punk rock since 2004 and I’m a little upset that this is the first time I’m hearing about them. Twelve Fluid Ounces is my introduction to a solid 3-piece outfit that will serve as a catalyst to delve deeper into their catalog. Fans of The Gaslight Anthem, The Bouncing Souls, and The Scandals will hear influences from the Garden State all over this record and the band is not shy to express their love for the Diner Capital of the World (see “This is Love” and “Nauseous in New Brunswick”).

Upon listening to the songs for the first time, my immediate reaction was to compare Twelve Fluid Ounces to Gaslight Anthem’s debut album. The records share a similar sound, songwriting style, and lyrical content. Even the layout of the tracks seems to be influenced by Sink or Swim. In that respect, Nine Eighteen are able to play loud and gritty with catchy hooks, while tracks 6 and 12 (presumably the last tracks on each side of the vinyl) are stripped-down, Billy Bragg type tunes.

The band tends to write songs collectively, a technique that seems to work well for them. Most of the tracks focus on personal accounts from the band, vaguely referencing hometown haunts and other places throughout Hub City and the town that Springsteen made famous. And after listening to the album, it’s easy to picture a group of sweaty punks hanging out, eatin' cheese fries at a late night diner after a show .

While the album is clearly influenced by some of their blue-collar, punk rock colleagues, the band harnesses a sound all to its own, particularly in reference to the vocals. While the music is well-written and well-played (high toned guitars, pounding drums, and walking bass lines), it is the vocals that enhance each song. The lead vocals are able to maintain catchy melodies, yet keep that grittiness that gives the tunes some edge. And most of the tracks are backed by harmonies and sing-along choruses that further complicate, yet simplify the songs for the listener.

The group sticks to a pretty simple, yet effective mantra: write personal songs that you’d want to listen to. By and large, this approach works. Twelve Fluid Ounces is an album that should become a mainstay on the record player.