by Ryan, contributing writer
GYMSHORTS’s debut album No Backsies! came out this past Valentine’s Day. It’s definitely a little album of tasty tunes for the grungy surf punk rocker in your life.
A bit heavier than your usual surf-rock fare, with chunky bass lines and aggressive guitar work, GYMSHORTS works its way into your earholes without any shyness. This album is the friend that comes over to your house party, hits on all of the girls, and ends up breaking something. But, you can’t help but love them because they’re the life of the party. As a friend from college once said, “You can’t really explain it. It’s just… punchy. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the way it is.” Punchy is definitely something that No Backsies! is. It comes out swinging with the track Owed to the Bank. You can almost hear the imaginary horn section in the intro that’s reminiscent of a ska tune, but that’s all gone once Sarah (GYMSHORTS’ front-woman) comes in. That brief moment of ska-ness is definitely gone the minute the chorus portion of the guitar rails out a mini solo between verses. I can’t imagine how thin and high-strung that lead guitar’s strings must be. Whatever it is they’re doing with that, though, keep doing it.
The second track of the nine-track album, Herman Melville, is toned down from the in your face Owed to the Bank. This is the kind of track you bob along to at one of their bar gigs. You’ve got a beer warming in your hand, your head and your feet are moving, and you don’t care. But, then, towards the end it pushes you from behind and you’re getting into it. The shoulders start moving and the next thing you know, the mosh pit’s started up again.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is Oh Brother. It’s something I’ve heard Sarah sing at work. (Did I mention that we work together? Call it nepotism if you want, but I’m calling the shots, and I’m digging these tunes.) Fun fact: It’s also one of her go-to catch phrases when I make a really bad pun (which is often). It’s a track that’s stop-and-go with the interludes of “Oh, brother”, but is definitely more in the go category once it gets going. Prepare yourself for the pushing and the shoving when you hear this intro start at one of their gigs.
The intro to Viberator is something you’d expect out of a harder-rock outfit like the Foo Fighters, but it leads in very well into the meat of the track. The little trick with pulling the guitar track’s balance to one side and adding the other side was nice. It’s definitely something fun to catch when you’re listening with headphones. As in many of their tracks, the guitar solo in Viberator is almost on the brink of furious without being as brutal as something you’d hear from Lamb of God. The soaring guitar is the standout player on this track.
The only low point I can really pull out of listening to this album is that the vocals aren’t mixed very well with the rest of the track. They’re too muddled at times to make out what Sarah’s saying. However, it’s not the band’s fault. It’s more than likely a mixing/editing issue. Even so, the album sounds great, and you can feel the energy of what she’s saying. It’s punk rock, after all. Do you really need to hear the words when a giant sweaty dude keeps slamming into you at the edge of the pit?
As many of you may (or may not) know, I like to match up albums and songs with scenes, places, and times where they’d be most appropriate. This album definitely falls into the category of summer listening. With their grungy surf-punk sound, GYMSHORTS deliver an album of tunes that’ll help you get your night started after a hard day’s work. Get yourself into a dark bar or a house party where GYMSHORTS are playing, put a beer in your hand, and have yourself a good time in the mosh pit.