Chicago has turned out some great bands over the years that have cost me an arm and leg in record buying, with Raygun and Crudos being just two of them. So did I want one more to add to the list? Did I really need another record of a band who are influenced by Hot Water Music? Not that that’s a bad thing, I do like HWM but I’ve heard a lot of stuff they’ve inspired that’s left me uninspired to say the least. However, hearing this lot for the first time I was surprised this is a debut LP, because on first listen it seems pretty well developed in terms of their sound and direction.
Heading straight down Melodic Punk Avenue, Turnspit are one of those bands where everyone seems to muck in and roll their sleeves up much like RVIVR . From the opener they set out their stall full of little hooks, bass and drums driving things along seamlessly and vocals that have both delicacy and snarl reminiscent of The Gits.
Second track in we get a change of vocalist and the pace picks up a little: in fact, actually three of the four-piece take the mic throughout the record. Not wanting to make comparisons but there’s a whole host of influences that start to emerge through the first few tracks. Against Me!, early Hot Water Music and Rise Against are all there: the band themselves also cite these acts and more in promo material and it’s positively evident throughout.
After another vocal changeover on track four Apologies, I Have So, So Many, we hit mid-album with the title track with more gritty HWM style, no intro just straight into the song with no letting up from both guitars and all voices. Next up is Skin, a absolutely sublime tune opening with Gillian on vocals and acoustic guitar. I’m not going to spoil it for you, it’s subject matter is pretty dark and took me three listens to get the thread of the tale but it was worth it for such a goosebump-inducing, lump-in-throat song that’s so well put together. Three minutes of duelling barked vocals and guitars follow this with Home Is Run No More, then onto a folky acoustic track called Given which made me smile with its lyrics about vans breaking down. One thing I like about this record is the way the tracks are laid out: I skipped around on one listen and it becomes pretty obvious the band have given a lot of thought about the order of songs.
The last four tracks consist of two duelling vocal/ guitar blasts, Taproom and Mid Sentence, a very quiet and short vocal track called Invisible that I almost missed first time round, then ending the album off with If It Meant Heaven Was Free, another fast-barked number with unashamed obvious influences as previously mentioned.
As there’s already a deluge of bands that are influenced by a deluge of No Idea bands that were influenced by… OK, what I’m trying to say, is there room for another band that follow this path/model/sound that has proved so successful for the few yet left so many struggling to sell 500 records? In Turnspit’s case I think there is. They have their own sound , the songwriting is solid, no obvious fillers, not too polished, sublime vocals and the artwork they’ve got on the record is beautiful. I don’t know whether they’ve done it themselves as I read somewhere one of the band is a graphic artist but it stands out, it’s a bit different. Just like Turnspit.