High Tension Wires
It’s Thanksgiving morning in 2007, and today I give thanks for bands like High Tension Wires. Made up of members from Marked Men, The Reds, and fronted by the punk rock frontman for the 21st Century, Mike Wiebe of Riverboat Gamblers, it should be no shock that this Texas pack sound like the great lost band of 1977.
Midnight Cashier is their sophomore release for Dirtnap Records, and it was two years in the making thanks to the sudden busy schedule of Mr. Wiebe after the Gamblers’ signing to Volcom took them to a whole new level of mass touring (with the likes of X, Rollins Band, Joan Jett, and Against Me!–to name a few). What these 11 songs bring to the table is the quick and simple slapping of early punk that’s been soaked in the spirit of playful, beer-swilling garage rock. In other words, they have smashed together two of my very favorite genres to spit out what will easily become one of my very favorite bands!
“Outsider,” a three-chord masterpiece that comes off like The Stooges meets Buzzcocks, is a prime example of this subtle garage punk blending.
Wiebe’s contagious energy and easy-to-sing-a-long-to vocals are all over these songs, and some–like the amazingly perfect, one minute long “Can’t Focus”–could have easily fit on the last Riverboat Gamblers album. Instead, they’re given a rockabilly makeover and rechristened as High Tension Wires tunes.
The one song that comes off as a left field player is aptly titled, “The Strange One.” Sounding like a jacked up R.E.M. tune circa New Adventures in Hi-Fi, or even a lost Nirvana track, it finds Wiebe singing less frantic, and in a lower register. It’s different, it’s interesting, and though it’s not as strong a track as “Hibernate,” “Old Enough to be Home Alone,” or “Wax Lips and Blood on the Telephone,” it’s still notable for its experimentalism.
Midnight Cashier deserves to be bought in full, not downloaded. It is that good!