As 2013 comes to a festive close the unexpected treats just keep coming this time in the sizeable excellence of the Fast EP from Washington, DC rockers Black Checker. Made up of six rivetingly addictive and thoroughly contagious slices of hungry punk pop with a power pop excitability, the release stomps with a presence which is hard not to be captivated by and breed a keen appetite for. There is something also familiar to the band’s sound which only endears itself to the imagination, an essence which is recognisable and undeniably fruitful in furthering the EP’s appeal. Black Checker may be new to most outside of their home state but Fast suggests it is only brief situation on the band’s richly potential rise to full recognition.
The trio of vocalist/bassist Jim Cordes, guitarist/vocals Tony Porreco, and drummer/vocals Names Thompson immediately spark attention into life as opening track Bagel Girl mischievously bounces into view with great jagged ska kissed riffs and a broody bassline. There is a warmth and swagger to the track which rapidly draws out a strong hunger, the rhythmic tempting and slightly gravelled vocals of Cordes just as appealing. Thoughts of Joe Jackson and Super Happy Fun Club are sparked at times as the track continues to stroll with confidence and skilful temptation drawing in emotions, additional fiery guitar invention and an intensifying feisty energy only adding to the irresistible lure.
The following Can’t Let Go takes the impressive start up another level or two, the track a rousing feast of rock pop with striking sinews and anthemic melodic fire. The drums of Thompson provide a hypnotically addictive frame for the charged riot of riffs and sonic endeavour to playfully incite the imagination within whilst again bass and vocals grip the ears with relish and thrilling temptation. It is a scintillating track which almost alone cements the presence and strength of the band and its sound as a new rapture in the passions. Black Checker has been tagged with comparisons to the likes of The Replacements, Cloud Nothings, Hüsker Dü, and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, references which are easy to understand but certainly this song amongst a few suggests an even closer link to another band, unfortunately that reference evades realisation as this is written which is extremely frustrating, like trying to pick up a needle wearing boxing gloves, so close but so far.
Never Doesn’t Mean Someday bursts in next with another riot of pop punk to greedily devour. The bass produces a great funk gait to its dancing on the ear riff whilst the guitars flirt with enthusiastic and accomplished devilry, grooves and hooks stoking the passions with addictive taunting and creative mischief. Though the song does not quite find the same heights as its predecessors it still takes the listener to an insatiable voracious rock ‘n’ roll party as hosted by Rocket From The Crypt. Its successor Blick Badger also keeps the quality and variety coming on strong, the opening range of riffs provided within a cavernous air to set up thoughts for the emerging blues kissed adventure. With a whisper of Graham Parker to its suasion the song provides another absorbing and firmly enticing recruitment of thoughts and emotions.
The jangling scythes of guitar which sculpts next up Man Enough soon has feet joining up with the bruising and thrilling urgency of its proposition. Vocals and rhythms are no weak link in the submission of the passions either whilst the melodic fire scorching every note and the rapacious energy driving the track forcibly through the ear make virulent contagion which refuses to take no for an answer from a now lustful hunger for more.
The closing track A New Way opens with a reggae seeded gait and lilt from bass and guitars whilst the riffs and their neat hooks are close cousins to those crafted by early XTC. It is a magnetic start which then slips from its initial pedestal as the song sweeps into an emotive and restrained embrace, though the return of the opening enticements does spark things up when they interject across the track. It is an undeniably strong and superbly crafted song but against what came before pales in success and presence. Nevertheless the final song still only reinforces the impressive presence of the band and their mouth-watering sound.
Fast is a storming slab of rock pop/ power punk which excites from start to finish declaring Black Checker as one of the finest and promising first encounters for us this year. Expect to hear the name a lot more ahead.
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