Title Fight – Shed

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Title Fight

Shed - SideOneDummy Records

Any follower of SideOneDummy Records over the past several years should have a pretty good understanding of the label’s current strategy.  But for those less familiar, I’ll break it down:

Find an up and coming band in a loosely related punk genre; take a chance on a broad range of developing talent – don’t sign too many bands that could be lumped together under the same banner; work with that band in a professional environment, giving them the tools to develop their latent creative potential.

The result has been the rise of a very well respected roster, ranging from The Gaslight Anthem’s glory days anthems, to the psychedelic folk tunes of Fake Problems, and even the barnyard twang ofReverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  So earlier this year when SideOneDummy signed Pennsylvania’s Title Fight, the addition largely continued the trend.

Curiously, for all of Side One Dummy’s punk roots, the label doesn’t have a band quite like Title Fight.  Gruff punk rock melded with hardcore circa Polar Bear Club and the voice crackling Menzingers,Title Fight’s SideOneDummy debut stands unique on the label’s roster.  However, labels like Bridge Nine and Run For Cover Records (the band’s previous home) have been signing likeminded bands for the last decade.  That’s where Title Fight face an uphill battle – what can they offer that hasn’t already been done before?

Truthfully, the four-piece’s latest full-length, Shed, offers more potential than performance, although all twelve tracks can be characterized as solid.

Jaime Rhoden’s vocals are aggressive but discernable – confident but loose.  In the quickest tracks – like “Coxton Yard” and “Flood of ‘72” – he strains himself with machinegun-like speed, rattling off words to a melody only revealing itself well into the songs.  Drummer Ben Russin knows how to bash up a storm, steadfastly drumming to unpunctuated phrases.  But the band also knows how to scale back to convention and have some fun with basic verse-chorus-verse structure.  The title track and “Society” exemplify their conventional variety, swapping between screaming and gravely outbursts.  During the album’s first half, the band alternates between both tempos adequately, although admittedly without much personality.

The real promise surfaces right around “Crescent-Shaped Depression” and thereafter.  Here the quartet starts taking risks, introducing some fluttery guitar chords, and experimenting with a few absorbing instrumentals.  If forced to brand this phase with a label, these final tracks could easily pass for post-hardcore in the vein of late-career Crime In Stereo.  The slow moving, contemplative “Safe In Your Skin” in particular stands as a prime example of what Title Fight is capable of, and the follow up in “Where Am I?” demonstrates a keen appreciation for continuity.  In these moments Shed shines brightly, hinting at an intriguing direction worth future pursuit.

At this point, Shed marks a band in the midst of what is hopefully career-defining development.  In some situations, Title Fight feels like nothing more than an opening act for some of Panic Records’ bigger names like Make Do And Mend and Outbreak, but at other times they sound like they could share the stage with Brand New.  Here’s to hoping future endeavors favor the later.