Rough Tough Dynamite and the End of The World

Every now and then I tell someone that I’m looking for new bands to listen to and every now and then someone actually remembers this and sends me an avalanche of audio joy. In this case it was Robbie Pfeffer of Playboy Manbaby who sent me a literal cavalcade of brilliance. Honestly, I can’t wait to see Rough Tough Dynamite live—keeping time with DEVO, making time with Television and simply employing all the influences they have picked up by listening to all the right late punk and new wave albums out there. Rough Tough Dynamite is a stunning and refreshing delight, to whom I suggest they play with the aforementioned Playboy Manbaby and Doctor Bones as soon as humanly possible. They simply have a great, catchy new wave sound (er, nu-new wave…newer wave…nouveau wave), while holding on to enough punk sensibility that nearly everything they do is just fun to listen to in the same way that Rough Trade records and stuff put out by semi-indie labels out of the US and UK in the mid-80s were and still are fun to listen to for kicks and pure enjoyment. There’s nothing necessarily revelatory here, but that works to Rough Tough Dynamite’s benefit, this is just great music rearranged in a slightly new way, in a different time and it’s on a completely different wavelength than most things I  find as I wander through this aural odyssey I call Arizona.

“Speaking Tongues” leads off the five song End Of The World EP, a smartly timed, two and a half minute indie rock surf single, sounding like Chris Stamey singing lead for the Pixies. I cannot place what the vocals remind me of, aside from the earlier reference, however, that’s what makes it for me over the surf-punk power pop beneath it that forces rises and troughs in the song enough to make it an exhilariting ride. “She’s gonna’ getchya’” is right, “Sweet poison filling the wounds and I’m losing the fight,” amazing metaphors that are simplistic all the same. It’s a great way to start an EP, or to start your day. In general Rough Tough Dynamite reminds me of a time where music did not have to necessarily mean something intellectual or strike an artsy milemark, all it had to do was make you feel good. This is no discredit to RTD, in any capacity, it’s how I feel about The Ramones, The Stooges and many, much more obscure, bands of whom I have everything they have ever recorded.

The new wave homage is brilliant on “Drive Thru Damsel”, catchy breaks, Gang of Four guitar and a head bopping chorus. There is a persistent air of darkness here, somehow a foreboding sense of the approach to a drive thru window that is both harrowing and alluring. Let’s face it, sometimes this happens and I’m pretty sure on some, albeit slightly weird, level, everyone can relate to the drive thru damsel or the grocery clerk or the bag boy or whoever that service side stranger we remotely fancy might be and the weird crush we might possess toward them. I’m not making this up, I just listed three examples from friends experiences in the last sentence. The video for it also happens to be amazing, well done and simply a whole hell of a lot of fun–at the very bottom of this post you can view it at your convenience, you won’t regret a moment of the time you spent watching Rough Tough Dynamite at their best in the role of a rock’n'roll Scooby gang.

Meanwhile “Ghost” digs into Americana, a touch of nerdy Americana, think territory where REM and the Feelies once dwelled early on. This is one of my favorite songs on the EP, but that’s like picking from one of your five favorite books or movies–what motivates the feeling, I’m not even sure. It may just be the rollicking ride musically, while the sounds swirl around your head in calliope time and the vocals are at their quirkiest delivery yet–again the thought comes back that this is fun music  for fun people, people who, when they are not listening  to such music, may be slightly sad. This is the closest approach Rough Tough Dynamite make to The Shins and that’s a great approach.

On “Diamonds” the synth takes a role right up front, with brilliant effect in tandem with the bass—the tale is told of a failing relationship, “She was more than she meant to be, I could  see her tears falling down like diamonds and I could see her dreams slipping too.” When I first listened to this EP, this song stood out like a hypnotic lullabye amidst the chaos and for that it stands out as a track of fascination–no less surf, no less early punk, but it showed a touch more emotional substance that comes back to my favorite adjective for this band: ”refreshing.” 

The five minute finale of “Waves” makes it clear that Rough Tough Dynamite have their indie surf sound down to perfection and they are capable of making a song as artistically constructed as they want to—half way through, the song takes a completely different turn in a cool acoustic break with the simple refrain of “Don’t let the waves push you down”—before exploding back to the beginning for the last minute. The bookends of “Waves” is amazing, the acoustic center as satisfying as that of any Oreo and the overall effect is absolutely, goddamned brilliant. Again, another favorite–wait, is that five out of five? Well, guess this is something I’ve been waiting for then. Though we’re not done yet, this is one of the most refreshing releases of the year and definitely one of my favorite EPs to come out so far.

For anyone that wants to check out Rough Tough Dynamite on stage and  in person, tonight may well be the night for you. Kevin Seconds (yes, of 7 Seconds fame) and Kepi Ghoulie (yes, of The Groovie Ghoulies fame) will be headlining tonight at Trunk Space, with immediate support from Rough Tough Dynamite,  Inky Unit and Liam & The Ladies. This should be a great time for those who dig great music with a little bit of punk spunk needed to brighten their each and every day.

The Trunk Space
1506 NW Grand Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85007

‎7:30 Doors Open
8pm: Liam & the Ladies
8:30: Inky Unit
9pm: Rough Tough Dynamite
10pm: Kevin Seconds and Kepi Ghoulie

Listen to the End Of The World EP here and download it for free or order a copy for only $5! HERE!

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