EP Review

EP Review: Smoked // Teen Mortgage

Some of the best things can be found via the internet these days ranging from Harry Potter merchandise to band formations; Teen Mortgage is the latter. Meeting via a Craigslist ad, James Guile (vocals and guitar) and Ed Barakauskas (drums) make up the punk-infused duo Teen Mortgage. Inspired by the likes of Misfits, IDLES, Dead Kennedys and Sleep, one can imagine there would be a punk thread in their musical tapestry; you wouldn’t be wrong. Described by Boxcar Collective as “combining the ferocity and intensity of Black Flag with the sludginess of the Melvins…”, the US-based pair are forceful in their hard-hitting style. The latest addition to their discography is the EP Smoked.

Recorded with producers Justin Day of New Noise Recordings and Mat Letter-Schulman of Motown Studios, SMOKE takes the punk sound of yesteryear and splashes it with their own contemporary flair. Written as one of the creative spurts during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the post-pandemic EP addresses provocative concepts in five hard-hitting tracks. From the opening ‘Shangri La’ to ‘Smoked’ and ‘Valley’, Teen Mortgage explores human fragility, angst, vulnerability and anger in modern-day society.

Guitar-driven with pounding drums, there is a nod toward the typical punk style; however, James and Ed showcase their innovativeness incorporating elements of grunge, stoner rock and metal. Aggressive and intense, listening to SMOKED can feel like being punched in the face but there is an intimacy in the lyricism as the lads engage with their audience. Almost a soundtrack for George Orwell’s 1984, there is a distortion of the songs representing societal manipulation but also the retaliation of the masses. Literally screaming, James asserts the potent opinion of the masses reviewing their aggression, desires and brutally honest sensibilities in a kaleidoscopic soundscape.

As I mentioned, listening to Teenage Mortgage is like being punched in the face. The thing is the punch rings in your ears, reverberates down your spine, ensnares your senses and makes you feel more empowered than ever before. The lads may not be Harry Potter-related but I adore their music all the same!

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