Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Album Review: Out There by Timeshares (by Richard Mair)

When New York’s Timeshares burst onto the scene in 2011 their brand of Hot Water Music influenced gruff punk, whilst typical of many a band, was executed perfectly and the consistency of their debut album “Bearable” set them apart from their many peers. Since then they have toured relentlessly, released a second album, a few EPs and truly honed and developed their sound to be something more than your typical anthemic blue collar everyman punk band. “Out There”, the band's second EP of the year, has more in common with the straight-up rock of Springsteen, or barroom stylings of The Hold Steady as it does with bands such as The Menzingers or Red City Radio; I’d even go as far to say, at times, this release is more akin to the country, bluesy Brian Fallon project of The Horrible Crowes as it does with the more punk elements of The Gaslight Anthem.

Over the years the band have grown as people and as a collective. Whilst founding member and guitarist Jason Mosher is no longer with them, the inclusion of the multi-talented Signals Midwest frontman Maxwell Stern has allowed for continuity without jeopardising the band’s sound. As a huge fan of Stern as a songwriter it’s clear he has had some involvement in this release, but make no mistake this is still very much a Timeshares EP and the sound crafted by Jon Hernandez, Mike Natoli and Eric Bedell remains as warm and full of life as it always has.

Opening track Fifteen Hours is a bona-fide typical Timeshares classic. Its big chorus destined to be sung in unison in sweaty basements and dive bars. The premise is simple, it’s about a boy and a girl and the awkward goofiness that us gents approach the dating game with. Whilst always sincere and earnest, it's lines like “she said that you should had have me on your apocalypse survival team... I had no idea what that means... but I know what that means” perfectly capture that feeling of trying to play it cool when really deep down we’re all massive geeks... and let’s face it who hasn’t had this exact conversation with a loved one! The fifteen hours in the title refers to time and distance and is a cracking little nod (albeit maybe unintentional) to Maxwell Stern's other work in Signals Midwest, notably the repetitive mantra that rears its head through Latitudes and Longitudes of “I was counting the miles you were counting the days...”. It’s a nice parallel to draw between the two bands given how distance and place has helped shape them over recent years, following relocations and trying to keep the respective bands going. The fact that this is a Mike Natoli penned song suggests that maybe some of Stern's fascination with time and distance have subconsciously rubbed off on the founding members!

Of the 4 tracks on offer, both “Out There” and “Pull the Stars Down” are towards the softer side of the Timeshares spectrum, bordering at times on the country stylings of Chuck Ragan or Tim Barry. Both are excellent. The EP's title track is a little more upbeat, but full of whimsy and nostalgia – it’s a proper grower of a song with excellent guitar work and great melodies and layers throughout. “Pull the Stars Down” is just plain gorgeous. It’s possibly the slowest and quietist song they’ve recorded to date. It’s got a real autumnal country living vibe to it. It’s no surprise to find this is a Maxwell Stern song, the obvious comparison for it is the acoustic track “Wherever I Might Land” released as a part of a Signals Midwest EP a few years ago; it’s impossible not to love the song and its hopeful optimistic sentiments. Hernandez’s vocal delivery is passionate yet thoughtful, sympathetic to the quietness of song; while Bedell’s drumming helps drive the song and lifts it when required. If it wasn’t for the final song on the EP this would probably be the most accomplished song they’ve recorded to date.

The closing track is “Bad Hand” and everything about it is epic. First off, it’s a proper Springsteen-esque, big band rock song – proving they can still kick out the jams when they want to. It’s not the most singalong of songs, instead the feeling of a midwestern style epic comes from the story-telling narrative. It’s the longest song they’ve written and, going back to my comparison of the Hold Steady, it’s easy to parallel with say their closing album tracks of “A Slight Discomfort” or “Oaks”. The closing coda is very reminiscent of the former, particularly the drum work. Everything about this song is big, from the duelling guitars to excellent solos. Nothing has been left out or left to chance. My only criticism (if it really is a criticism) is of the song and its placing on an EP. This song deserves to have a full album behind it to really have the impact it warrants.

Both EPs released this year have been excellent; for me “Out There” is probably the most successful of the two and really puts the pressure on for album three. I can’t wait to see where Timeshares head next if they can maintain this level of creativity and growth!

Stream and download Out There here:

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This review was written by Richard Mair.

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