Lunchbox at Fear and Loathing

Seattle’s Jigsaw Records has begun an onslaught of catchy and idiosyncratic 7″ vinyl and full-length releases. I just got hip to their stylish and wayward celebration of independent music. With an ethos similar to early indie upstarts Beserkley and Stiff Records, the label is crossing boundaries while bringing back focus and fun to the scattered independent music scene. The cool thing about indie in the Internet age is that it is more accessible than ever. There was a time when you would have to stay up late to catch your local college rock station’s prime hours on a Sunday night from 11:30 pm until 2:00 am. During that time, you would hear Minor Threat, Dinosaur Jr, theSmiths, and the Descendents all in one show. Now in place of having to record the proceedings on your boom box with a 90-minute cassette, we have blogs that filter and provide instant access. Gone are the days of waiting up for a midnight show or a monthly zine to show up at a record shop an hour away. I do miss the days of rummaging and hunting down mysterious band names you would read or hear about from a friend of a friend. At the same time, things change, move forward, and transform to fill the present void.

Lunchbox is like the pleasure-seeking orphan of the Weezer Blue Album, ditching the prom with their date to go hang out in the local graveyard, dancing on the burial sites of Nick Lowe and The Simpletones. Fusing the fuzziest nuances of pop with a careless and playful fever, while burying their own inhibitions, new sounds with familiar echoes are brought to life. The kids aren’t alright and the world’s a mess, ground zero for reckless summer fun. “Smash Hits” is 13 minutes of pure indie pop-punk bliss with the just the right amount of dirty ambiance to let the raw guitar and trashy drums highlight its five star tunefulness. The 7″ format fits this extended song collection perfectly. The packaging includes a nice homage to the 90s with its cool front cover, featuring a reel-to-reel recorder and the classic back cover “footwear” photo, not to mention the perfect “slacker” font style. Six look-sharp blasts on one small record, perfect brevity.

The record fizzes with a wild aloofness and briskly cruises into overdrive producing a saccharine concerto of noise-pop wizardry. The EP kicks off with “Heaven”, a sweetPhil Spector by way of the Ramones inspired number. It’s followed by the scorching “Paws of Destiny”, which is reminiscent of the great singles that Shredder Recordsused to assemble on its classic CD compilations. The tracks “Friends” and “Flatland” provide punchy anthems replete with Rich Kids guitar style and garage rock aplomb. If you have any doubts about the rock prowess of this band, check out the kick ass “(It’s Your) Lovesong”. “Most Unlikely to Succeed” ends this collection with its self-deprecating Beach Boys harmonies and Queers style chord progressions. An essential addition to your vinyl or digital collection, my only complaint is that this classy noise-bomb of trashy pop goes by too quick, leaving you wanting more. Actually, that’s a good thing, this band plays hard to get, just the way I like it.