For us it seems difficult and increasingly so for new pop punk bands to stand out from the crowd but one who is making a potent fist of that is US outfit Ten Cents Short. That is not to say that the Massachusetts quintet is majorly steering away from recognisable and well-worn genre flavours but as their new EP shows, they are certainly adept at conjuring hooks and imaginative twists which sets them apart from the many. Major Steps, Minor Setbacks is a thoroughly flavoursome and highly enjoyable encounter which pretty much reflects its title in sound alone; the array of those striking hooks and an open melodic enterprise lifting them above the flock while familiar but equally appetising recognisable strains take them back a little closer.
Major Steps, Minor Setbacks was recorded with Chris Piquette (Trophy Wives, Lions Lions) at No Boundaries Studios, all except lead single Beggars which was co-written with and produced by Alan Day from Four Year Strong who they met at the 2014 Warped Tour when attending that band’s meet and greet, passing over their CD to Day who a couple of months later invited them to record with him.
The EP opens up with Draw The Line first, and swiftly has ears more than attentive and the imagination grabbed as vocal flirtation beckons behind fiery riffs and a quite deliciously grimy bassline to get things rolling. In no time wiry hooks are adding to the rich and soon irresistible bait, each element evolving into similarly alluring enterprise as the song hits its swinging stroll with the potent tones of vocalist/bassist Aaron Couto to the fore. With the band vocally backing and the guitars of Austin Peterson and Dave Case casting a web of stabby riffs and flowing melodic revelry, the track just hits the spot, those still eagerly sculpted hooks raising the ante with every spirited and spirit sparking outburst
The lively beats of drummer Jonathan Costa are another mighty lure within the song and similarly its successor Higher Powers. Making a far gentler entrance with an acoustic melody holding hands with a steely accomplice, the track soon flicks its own energised switch with riffs and rhythms tenaciously crowding around Couto’s voice. It is the sudden turns into calmer and in turn more boisterous eruptions which lifts an already pleasing proposal and though it lacks the final sparks of invention of its predecessor, which never relinquishes best track honours throughout the EP, it has the body bouncing and a swiftly growing appetite for the Ten Cents Short sound greedier.
The aforementioned single Beggars is next, the song blessed with another gnarly bassline and a slightly irritable nagging of riffs; discontent which seeps into vocals and Jonathan Costa’s senses nipping beats too. Soaring harmonies and spicy melodies add to the ear striking encounter, its mix of warmth and agitation thick captivation intensified by the matching roar of the track’s vocals and emotive heart.
Setback steps forward next with chugging riffs and scything beats as Couto casts spirited thoughts with equally energy. Into its heated bouncy stride, there is no losing of ears and appetite. In many ways, the song is the least individual upon the EP, weaving familiarity into its roar yet there is a freshness and verve which simply grabs body and spirit and leaves real satisfaction in its wake.
The EP closes up with Make It, an anthemic cry cored by an entanglement of punchy beats and snarling bass wrapped in melodic adventure and vocal animation. As with all songs, it has the body dancing and energies lifted as Major Steps, Minor Setbacks comes to a potent conclusion; that ability on its own a plus in anyone’s book.
Listening to their new endeavour, there is no escaping that Ten Cents Short has that little extra to set them aside; an extra which has the potential to blossom into real uniqueness and greater adventure as the band truly makes a name for itself.
Major Steps, Minor Setbacks is released May26th and available @ http://tencentsshort.bigcartel.com/product/major-steps-minor-setbacks
Pete RingMaster 26/05/2017
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