Garage-punk debut hits some sweet spots
Turf War is a five-piece garage-punk outfit from Georgia whose roots owe a good deal more to bands like the Undertones and the Buzzcocks than to anything like Bad Religion or Fear. This is another way of saying that the melodies are hummable and the lyrics tend to be wistful and good-natured, rather than enraged. “Cheers to the Years” channels that wistfulness well, as does “A Little Harder This Time”, which is probably the most memorable song in the set and one which benefits greatly from an irresistible melody. Frontman John Robinson doesn’t have the strongest voice on Earth, but his limited range isn’t seriously challenged by these songs, which never veer far from the mid-tempo, guitar-driven template. The guitars tend to bleed into a formless background wash—fans of solos will be disappointed—but there’s a certain Stonesy roll to tunes like “Friends & Company”, “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Enemies”, with their musical looseness and I-know-this-is-all-BS vocal swagger. If you can ignore the fact that the band lacks a Keith Richards, or even a serviceable Ronnie Wood, there are pleasures to be found here.