Hot off the Press

Teenage Casket Company | Best Kept Secret

by Mark Allen
Staff Writer —

If you get your jollies by discovering unknown bands that sound like they should be bigger than they are, then listening to Teenage Casket Company will get you more excited than the high school geek scoring a date with a hot cheerleader who promises the night will end with her pom-poms naked. The band’s bouncy, infectious, guitar-driven power-pop has been filtered through the fun-loving spirit of the ‘80s and filigreed with some dirty punk attitude, creating a sound that is both warmly familiar and yet anything but cookie cutter. It’s Butch Walker meets Cheap Trick and it’s plenty good enough to be on modern rock radio… if modern rock radio didn’t have its head up its ass most of the time.

Teenage Casket Company have been around for a decade now, releasing indie albums in ‘03 (Dial It Up) and ‘07 (Eat Your Heart Out). Originally a quartet, they are now a trio following the departure of guitarist Jamie Derelict in ‘09. The other members circled the scene a bit, touring and writing with The Bulletboys and Stevie Jaimz, but during this two year hiatus the band’s fans (called “coffin kids”) grew restless and demanded they get back together. So, armed with a new studio track (“Best Friend is My Radio”), Teenage Casket Company have compiled this “best of” collection to re-introduce their smart, catchy style of rock to the world. Here’s hoping the world is paying attention.

This is one talented bunch of guys; they possess skills that only come from a hearty work ethic and an eternity or two honing those chops out on the big bad road. Bands like Bowling For Soup and Danger Danger have publicly declared their admiration for Teenage Casket Company, so you know they’re not just a bunch of frat boys banging around in daddy’s garage and calling themselves a band. Teenage Casket Company may only be a threesome now (get your minds out of the gutter) but those three know how to play.

Whether or not you choose to call this “hard” rock depends on where you draw the line. It ain’t Metallica, but it ain’t Madonna either. Whatever you choose to call it, this is utterly addictive stuff, equipped with snarky lyrics and the kind of sharp hooks that instantly snag you like a fish hook in the eyeball. Take the new song, “Best Friend Is My Radio,” for example; with its fast rhythms, driving guitars, sing-along chorus, and punk-powered angst, it is a prime exhibition of the Teenage Casket Company style. That description can be applied to just about any track on this album except for “Believe In You,” which is a huge lighter-in-the-air ballad that proudly testifies to the band’s love of ‘80s hair metal. It’s one part Warrant, one part Firehouse, and all class. Put it up there with the classic power ballads we all know and love.

If you absolutely must find something to complain about—though, really, this album is so much fun that bitching seems almost sinful, but if you must—then you could argue that all the songs kind of sound the same. But that is the curse of any genre and this sort of power-pop rock is no exception. You could also argue for a bigger backing vocal punch—a few more gang vocals would really hit the spot—but enough with the nitpicking. Even with these minor flaws, this album is fun and infectious from start to finish.

Teenage Casket Company have a name that conjures up images of dark, trendy, Gothic metal infested with garish ghouls and bloody-fanged vamps. Well, take that misconception, drive a stake through its erroneous heart, and bury it six feet underground. With their timeless, addictive, hook-laden approach to the genre, these guys truly are one of the best kept secrets in the world of rock and roll.

Genre: Rock

Rob Wylde (vocals, guitars)
Laney 74 (bass)
Spike (drums, keyboards)

Track Listing
1. Best Friend Is My Radio
2. Cocaine
3. Dial It Up
4. Down on Luck
5. Thank You For Nothing
6. Mirrors & Wires
7. Don’t Look At Me Like That
8. Believe In You
9. One Thing You Don’t Need
10. Eat Your Heart Out
11. Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me

Label: JAMSYNC Music


Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10