BEING WITHIN A RELATIVELY CLOSE proximity to the rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world, Memphis; Fayetteville, Arkansas is often overshadowed and occasionally even snubbed by its more cocksure counterpart when it comes to all things music. This by no means excludes punk rock, a world where -let’s face it- there’s more terrible bands than good as well as random onslaughts of unwarranted pretension from people who, I don’t know, just really, really suck. But there’s punk rock and then there’s punk rawk. And Fayetteville’s own Ten High are most certainly the latter.
With the mad swagger of a rock ‘n’ roll band born out of the spirits of Elvis and Jerry Lee themselves, this frenzied four-piece cuts swaths through earholes with a balls-out punk blister that can call the devilish croon of sleazy swamp rock or the pep and scream of the best of anarcho-punk. And everything in between.
And now, with the upcoming release of their debut full-length LP Self Entitled, Ten High are showing that they are eons beyond most garage punk bands that are circling the planet today. There’s a sense of maturity -not a dirty word- on this album. Not an evolution as such, just more a honing of a craft that Ten High have already nailed down brilliantly anyway. Take it from me, this album is a cracker!
Scheduled for release on the 5th of April, Self Entitled was recorded in two phases during 2017. Up until now, the band has only ever released EPs, 2014’s Libido, 2015’s Cable Vision, and 2016’s absolute belter This is a Pipe Dream. All three EP’s are as phenomenal as the next one, so it only stands to reason that a Ten High LP was due. It’s a natural progression.
“We just called it Self Entitled which kinda pokes fun at all the self-entitled people we’ve had to deal with.” -Devan Theos (Drummer/Vocals)
Self Entitled is eleven tracks of pure, unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll bliss, jam-packed with the fierce, hard-edged and damn good fun Ten High sound we all know and love. But there are twists. Surprising, yet completely satisfying twists. Ten High are now on occasion experimenting with different styles, different progressions, doing it with the brashness of youth and doing it damn bloody well. All these ingredients are key to keeping any band fresh and relevant. To not wear out their welcome. Don’t worry; these guys are gonna be just fine.
“We tried to encompass a little more variation to show that we can play non-heavy stuff, too. With the ‘Xenomorphine’ interludes it was fun to just play something totally different; melodic, soft, pretty songs. That isn’t what we normally do but it’s a nice lil’ change.” -Devan Theos
Recorded and mixed by Eric Witthans at Homestead Recording in Fayetteville on a reel-to-reel, Self Entitled encompasses all that is required right now in bleak old 2018; the purity of adrenalin-pumping noise, a no bullshit, take no prisoners attitude, and an urban grit that not only smacks down the establishment, but tells the listener that everything may end up being okay after all. Along with the band themselves, credit for this magic must also go to Eric Witthans, Ben Josef (mastering) and even cover artist Etienne Fred Puaux who has somehow managed to capture the very essence of Self Entitled in the form of cultural intrigue via some freakishly great artwork.
As well as recording a brand new EP in Memphis -quite possibly at the time of this article being written- Ten High will be playing two shows at next week’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas -one show being part of a Greenway Records showcase- as well as a West Coast tour in May.
But it’s the gear-crunching slowburn of ‘Fakers’ that I’m lifting from Self Entitled to feature as today’s Record of the Day. I ain’t gonna talk about it, I ain’t gonna analyse or discuss its merits or worthiness, I’m just gonna let you play it and dig on this mighty tune for yourselves.