Sunday, May 17, 2009

Latterman - Turn Up the Punk, We'll Be Singing

“what we need round here is positive people”

Latterman is one of those bands that’s just a joy to listen to. The Long Island foursome play with an intense energy and passion for their music, their lyrics are unapologetically upbeat, and their music radiates with an undaunted positivity, as if to re-assure the listener that everything’s going to be alright. To use an analogy taken from Allmusic, Latterman “is like the musical equivalent of a friend patting you on the back and dragging you out for a cold beer after spending the day feeling a bit down”.

Turn Up the Punk, We’ll Be Singing is Latterman’s first full-length album. Originally released on Traffic Violation Records in 2002, it got a re-release on Deep Elm in 2005 thanks to the greater popularity that came with the release of their second album, No Matter Where We Go…! The album is rawer than much of what would come after it, yet still imbued with much better production values than anything the band had released previously. Turn Up the Punk is then something of a middle ground in the evolution of Latterman’s sound, caught between the rougher, basement band punk of their demo and early seven inches, and the cleaner, more varied and melodic band they would grow into on subsequent full-lengths. And yet, it is undeniably memorable because of those clashing directions.

Musically, the group creates what sounds like a combination of pop-punk and post-hardcore, mixing the airy, upbeat tones of the former with the heaviness and instrumental complexity of the latter. Whether strummed or picked, the guitars emit a melodic and joyous pitch that wonderfully emphasizes the optimism and positivity that reigns throughout not just Turn Up the Punk, but Latterman’s entire discography. The music crackles with a youthful vigour, one that signifies the passion of the people playing it.

And while there isn’t too much variety to speak of, the songs never sound recycled from one another, with distinctions coming both in the form of well-placed hooks and well-defined lyrical subject matter. The typical punk subjects of mid-20 something apathy are touched on (“My Dreams About Not Sleeping Until 3 p.m.”, “Too Many Emo Days”), but always in the sense of “Well, what can we do about this?” Latterman doesn’t just examine the problems surrounding their lives, but actively (and optimistically) looks at what they, and you, as individuals can do about it. Rather than wallow in self-pity, each song is its own anthem of empowerment, garnished with equally anthemic chants and rallying cries.

If you let your heart tell you who you need to be
You'll find a beautiful person in the mirror everyday

Even when Latterman engages in social criticism (“The Biggest Sausage Party Ever”), they still address it from a perspective of what can be done about it, as opposed to one of abject despondence. Consumer culture and gender inequalities are chief topics of criticism, with awareness, honesty and DIY being promoted as ways of combating these social ills from the standpoint of the individual.

On Turn Up the Punk, We’ll Be Singing, Latterman conceive their inimitable and passionate brand of punk rock with a bang, creating a style just as individual as the message they preach. This is not just energetic and anthemic pop-punk, delivered with an upbeat attitude and a strong sense of social morality, but a shining example of the level of originality still achievable in punk. Pick yourself up a cold beer and give it a listen.

remind ourselves ten years from now
just what we need


Anonymous said...

Nice picture, if you could just link it back to the photographer (brian kelleher - that would be great!

Anonymous said...

yeah man thanks for posting i fucking love this band!!! its a bummer i found them after they broke up though..