ALBUM REVIEW: THE TUFTED PUFFINS – OLD, LOUD, & PUFFY

Full disclosure, I’m Facespace pals with all the guys in this band and one of the earliest reviews posted on this blog covered the initial demo from this “collective” of veterans of the Northeast Ohio punk rock scene. Featuring members of bands like Burning Lesbians, Goburn, Sleazy Jesus & The Splatterpigs, and Zen Luv Assassins (to name a few), expectations are high. The demo hinted at some greatness and this is their long awaited debut LP. Released to digital and USB stick, these guys prove that you don’t have to be a 20-something rager to try-out new distribution models.

The album sounds excellent, with a punchy mix that’s lively and well-balanced. The drums of “Markymoon” and the bass of Ken Brown give the songs a solid foundation, with Moon’s hyperactive beats making me sweat profusely just thinking about it. The bass is a little rubbery sounding for my tastes at times, but it does it’s job well enough and cuts through easily (so no complaints, really). The guitars of Mike Baker and Tom Huff are aggressive and perfectly “rock and roll,” with plenty of effects employed where needed, including a brief appearance of one of those weirdo Korg “Japanese Girl’s voice” things on one of Huff’s leads! Wild. The vocals sit a bit higher in the mix, as to be expected from punk rock of this breed. It’s an energized sound that makes ya want to dance and sing along.

My initial thoughts on their demo were that these guys were great at dishing out first-wave punk rock tunes that are catchy, concise, and annoyed with everyone around them. That impression hasn’t changed. Expect sonic elements of stuff like the Buzzcocks and The Dead Boys (c’mon, the title is an homage to these Clevo legends!), a punkier version of the Who, and maybe a little Richard Hell and the Voidoids? It rocks!

The guys rock harder than a lot of people half their age trying punk rock these days, and do it with plenty of conviction and authenticity. Check it out! – Jason

Messin’ Up My Mind – The album opens with a hard-charging rocker that’s catchy and fun and sounds like straight-up rock and roll should sound. Sweaty. Huffs sputtering lead comes off pretty hot and fuzzy. Good stuff! I’m digging this tune! The call and response vocals at the end are timeless. The weird Monkees vocal recall at the end was unexpected, and seemingly adlibbed. Thumbs up!

It Ain’t Right – I hate to say this song’s riff sounds way too similar to the opening cut and it feels like the highs have been cut off via a lo-pass filter in the mix. The result is a track that sounds flat compared to the high-voltage swagger of the opener. It feels like maybe it was recorded/mixed at a different time, as it totally stands out against the rest of the record in all the wrong ways. It isn’t bad, but leaves me feeling a little meh. Huff’s lead is cool, as is the opening wailing scream, otherwise it’s ok.

Dead By Now – Heck yeah! I’m digging this rocker! The chorus is excellent and I’m loving the narrator’s recollection of all of his adventures/misadventures. Baker’s animated vocal delivery is sweet. I hope I rock as hard at 60! This tune does remind me of the excellent single (Poor & Weird) by a mostly forgotten band called The Briefs. Thumbs up!

In America – This track was a highlight of their 2016 demo, re-recorded and done up all proper for the LP. It still rocks. The bouncing bass and ringing chords give the song a 60s psyche nostalgia, and it’s super catchy. Huff’s solo gets a little weird toward the end, but he’s a ripper on guitar so I know it was all part of his plan. Thumbs up!

Good Times – This sub-two-minute jammer is pretty fun, straight-forward rock and roll with an almost stoner rock guitar melody squirming through the chorus. Good stuff. Huff’s lead on this one is short but sweet. There’s some weird percussion after the lead that sounds almost like 55 gallon drums being beaten. Cool.

Hip – This track sounds like a weird mash-up of Fu Manchu (or at least Bob Balch’s riffing) and the Kinks. It’s a high-energy barn burner and I’m digging it. I love the gang vocal chant “somebody’s gonna break a hip tonight!” A haha! Shake your butt, friends! Thumbs up!

I Never Lied – Markymoon keeps the album leaning forward with another urgent beat that pushes the song along. The palm-muted verse riff on this one is really familiar sounding, perhaps something from the 90s(?), but I can’t place it. It’s a fun tune with a catchy chorus. It might be a tad too long for it’s own good, but whatever. Huff’s got another hot lead that serves the song well, and then he busts out a Korg Miku for a short bit, which is wild! I’ve never heard anyone every use one of these musically, so that’s fun! It’s alright!

My Doo Rag Will Hold My Brain In – Great title, rocking tune! The pounding intro sets the stage well for the bouncing pulse of the song. Lyrically, it feels a bit like People Who Died through the verses, and it’s just as fun. The morale of the story is “Wear a helmet guys, it’ll do a better job of keeping your brain in when you wipe out that motorcycle on I-480.”

That’s Rock And Roll – Here we have another uptempo blast of rock and roll! Yeah! “You better be ready to die for rock and roll!” Yeah! I am, buddy! Moon’s beat is relentless, just listen to that kick pounding along! Thumbs up!

Diamond In The Rough – Here’s another one that appeared on the earlier demo. The new version sounds excellent, and it’s still an excellent rock and roll tune. Huff’s lead smokes! I dig it! Cool.

Bang Bang – Dang, this one hits hard and fast! The backing vocals shouting out the title give the song great attitude. The rapid fire vocals and romping chord progression makes this tune a ripper! Baker sounds fiery and excellent on this song. Thumbs way up!

It Ain’t You – After the blast of Bang Bang, this one eases up with more of an uptempo garage-rock vibe. In a way it’s sorta reminding me of the New Bomb Turks, and that’s not a bad thing! Catchy! Fun! Rock and roll, ya mooks! Rad.

Faded Blue – The album ends with another hard-charging rocker! It’s sweaty and energetic, continuing to hit hard. It’s simple, yeah, but more importantly.. it’s really good! Thumbs up!

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