Review: T-Tops ‘Staring At A Static Screen’

T-Tops are a trio from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made up of Patrick Waters – guitars/vocals, Mike Koch – drums and bassist Matt Schor. The band have been in existence for well over a decade with Staring At A Static Screen being their sophomore release following 2015’s S/T debut album.

T-Tops ‘Staring At A Static Screen’

T-Tops according to the promo-notes is a reference to the removable panel car roof popularised in America in the 1970s, and along with the album’s description as ‘a dirty symphony of car wrecks, grimy alleys, beat-to-shit jeans, and bottomless reservoirs of snarling rust-belt antipathy translated into musical form’, gives the impression we are possibly venturing into Motörhead and Zeke territory.

Opener Burn The River is certainly in the tradition of the aforementioned outfits, kicking the album off in a ripping fashion. There are also hints of bands from the more garage-punk wing of Amphetamine Reptile such as Lollipop and early Nashville Pussy. Speaking of Am Rep, Staring At A Static Screen taps into the likes of New York noise-rock legends Unsane, as well as a more aggressive Surgery. There’s a grimy feel to the track which one could associate with New York of yesteryear.

Palomino pays its dues to Big Black and their proto-industrial grind, the track as a whole is ridiculously catchy and makes you think that when Deee-Lite sang Groove Is In The Heart they may have been onto something. My Headache continues the groove with a swagger that reminds one of the Stone Temple Pilots track Big Bang Baby along with the tasty pummelling of Unsane. If a video hasn’t yet been made for this track it should be, perhaps a series of skateboarding mishaps ala Scrape.

T-Tops play with so much exuberance and goofy charm that it only serves to enhance the listening experience…

If like myself you have a love for overlooked post-hardcore SST outfits such as Saccharine Trust then Full-Blown Woman on the album will surely get you positively giddy with excitement, in fact it could easily fit onto that band’s Paganicons debut. The album’s halfway point is marked by All Black Crown which contains a subtle touch of blues-rock melded with harsh vocals that recall Neil Fallon and his crew.

My Side Of The Line‘s main riff has a rock ‘n’ roll feel such is its simplicity evoking the spirits of Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry, which after-all was the original intention of ’77 punk rock, to escape from supposed prog excesses. The track taps into this tradition with supreme success without the embarrassing cliches of safety pins and ill fitting tartan trousers. If you miss The Jesus Lizard then Feathers is bound to fill those holes in your heart and soul with vintage Dayne Dennison guitar histrionics and splendidly demented David Yow vocals.

The Jesus Lizard influences continue with the brilliant Drugstore before we reach the shortest track on the album, the adrenaline laden Savvy Man, the musical equivalent of a sugar rush which makes the likes of The MC5 seem pedestrian by comparison. Face Of Depression is a curious listen, on the one hand emulating the noise-rock of a band like Tar while incorporating classy rap-metal with the vocal inflections of Downset and it works! WMYTYTO (What Makes You Think I’m The One) is a Fleetwood Mac cover and a deliciously twisted love song to end the album on a cynical high.

T-Tops play with so much exuberance and goofy charm that it only serves to enhance the listening experience. There is nothing here to indicate that the band are reinventing the musical wheel, yet I couldn’t help but smile broadly throughout the album and sometimes that’s all you need.

Label: Magnetic Eye Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills