Sometimes it’s nice to check out new music outside the usual comfort zone, and it can be especially rewarding when looking for some of the local bands and finding something you like that maybe you wouldn’t have paid much mind to in most other circumstances. Punk as a genre isn’t something I’ve found myself following too heavily, but I do have quite an appreciation for the music and its’ traditionally bold simplicity. There is quite a diverse range of stylistic choices under the umbrella term of “Punk”, from fast, extremely aggressive styles, to more “pop” inspired approaches, and of course everything in between. However, it can be rather refreshing to listen to something sounding much more “traditional”, taking inspiration from earlier examples of punk as a genre. This is certainly the approach I hear when listening Shit Tinnies’ self-titled debut; a bare bones traditional punk-rock record. But there is a lot more than just “three chords” going on throughout the album, with some deviations from that traditional sound that keeps things fresh and interesting while still retaining the bold simplicity which characterises Punk genre.
Shit Tinnies, based in our very own Sydney, New South Wales, describe themselves as “A Kiwi, a Brit, a Serb and a Canadian sinking beers”, and really at the core of this EP, that’s what it sounds like. A bunch of mates getting together, jamming in a garage and having a good time, and the overall production across the EP really reflects this. It sounds like it’s recorded in a full band setting with a “warts and all” approach to production, which is to say very little. But this doesn’t detract from the character of the music at all; if anything, it adds its own charm. One wouldn’t have to go to a small punk gig expecting precise technical perfection, in fact it would feel almost stale without some of those small imperfections. It’s all about the context of musical style, and in this context the bare bones production makes sense. I even like the way that some recordings were left running at the end of some songs, with some communication between the band members afterwards, adding more to the “recorded in a garage” aesthetic. However, it would be warranted to criticise unwanted frequency spikes, even in this production context, and the bass does jump out a little more than would be considered reasonable, but that’s really a minor nitpick, as it only happens sporadically throughout the album.
When it comes to musicianship, everything sounds tight, even with the “garage band” production style. The guitar tracking is tight and lock in with the drums well, and the vocal work is about what one would expect from a typical punk rock record. But a real highlight that I noticed in particular was the bass work throughout the EP. For instance, in the introduction to the track Guessing, the bass follows some interesting melodic lines that adds some nice colour to the otherwise simplistic instrumentation. This embellishment is heard in other tracks too, such as Control, Night and Pedal, often adding a little extra colour to the ends of choruses and other places where it would otherwise sound rather flat with just the guitars, rudimentary bass and drums. However, there is plenty of room for the other instrumentation as well. Whilst there isn’t any “musical gymnastics” to note, there are some great instrumental choices that steer away from sticking too much to a formula. For instance, on the track Pedal, the main lead guitar plays a jumpy, catchy hook that whilst being rather simple, works well with the surrounding instrumentation, whilst still retaining a very traditional punk feel to the song. And on the track Night, the guitars follow a very jangly, trebly chordal pattern in a low to mid-tempo which is a great change to the overall tonal character of the EP. There are even a couple solos here and there, and there were enjoyable to hear without ever feeling encroaching or overpowering.
This album isn’t a fast album, nor a particularly aggressive one. It’s the sort of album that one would put on at a typical party with the boys and have a good time. It’s not full of flashy instrumentation, but who listens to punk for flashy musicianship? The singing isn’t really pitch perfect, but it’s not meant to be. It’s bold, simple music, but that’s the whole charm of punk rock. Shit Tinnies has released a solid record for what it is, and I look forward to seeing where the band goes from here.