Album: Front Seat Solidarity
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One of the simplest arguments to make on the music created over the past two decades is that as the years pass, the rise of technology and consumers have easier access to purchasing music, the overall quality of "mainstream" music has diminished in an equivalent scale. That is to say, as the presence of technology within recording environments has gone up, the amount of time and talent put into it has dropped to a truly tragic level. Throughout the mainstream of nearly every genre, the 2000's presented some of the most uninspiring and mediocre music of all time, and yet within the "underground" of these same styles, many of the most original and exciting bands in history have emerged. Though some may try and argue that styles like rock and punk are long-since dead, the moment one hears the invigorating music of This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, such accusations are quickly laid to rest. Truth be told, there may be no other group of their generation that was as authentic and true to a single sound, and at the same time, the band knew no musical peers during their decade together. Blending together the worlds of "DIY," punk rock, folk, and rock and roll, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb released a number of fast-paced, yet completely captivating records, and they were at their finest on 2002's Front Seat Solidarity. Filled with fourteen tracks that spanned just under one half hour of hard hitting spirit, one can make the case that it is 2002's "Mouseteeth," where one can hear everything that made This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb such a brilliantly unique band.
From the moment that "Mouseteeth" begins, there is no question that This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb make music like no other band on the planet, and it revolves around the almost dizzying guitar from the man simply called "Rymodee." On every song the band ever recorded, it is his amazing knack for writing a hook which instantly captivates the listener, and that found on "Mouseteeth" is one of his finest. The way that the guitar is able to sway back and forth so quickly, whilst keeping a rather dirty, punk-style energy and distortion is absolutely one-of-a-kind, and it drives the entire song to a sound and energy that can still easily ignite any crowd of people. It is the manner with which the rest of the trio blend into the sound that makes This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb so sonically impressive, as bassist Terry Johnson is just as vital to the overall energy on the track. Bringing an attack and vigor to her instrument that is a rather rare sound within the musicians of her generation, it is the way that her sound almost bounces off of the guitar parts that give "Mouseteeth" a life unlike any other recoding in history. Rounding out the band is drummer Ted Helmick, and it is within his playing that the clearest link to the "DIY" and punk sounds can be found. Both the speed and tone with which he plays is as punk as one could want, and yet there is an edge that approach that helps to give the entire song an appeal that easily crosses any musical boundary.
Along with his magnificent guitar parts and composing the songs, Rymodee is also responsible for a majority of the vocals on "Mouseteeth," and much like his musical performance, there is no mistaking the sound and style of his singing. Bringing as much energy and power to his singing as the music behind him, there are many moments where he almost seems to get caught up in the moment, letting the song guide his vocal style. This proves to be one of his greatest attributes, as at every turn, the vocals are just as intriguing as the music, and the harmonies he shares with Johnson stand as some of the most uniquely amazing in the past few decades of recorded music. The way that their voices are able to simultaneously contrast and compliment one another is nothing short of superb, and one can see a similar clash between the energy and tone of the music, and that found within the lyrics on "Mouseteeth." Truth be told, one would be hard pressed to find a more serious and challenging lyricist than Rymodee, as a majority of his songs concern issues with the government and other social issues, and yet "Mouseteeth" stands as one of their more provocative songs. While the words may be missed at first listen, the song actually concerns the hypocrisy found in many parents, as the protagonist takes a firm stand for providing a "politically correct" environment around their child, whilst physically abusing them "behind closed doors." While in most cases, such a theme would be almost offensive within music, all across "Mouseteeth" it is executed with absolute perfection and stands as one of the most powerful songs in recent history.
Simply put, there has never been another band that sounded similar to This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, and the power within both their music and lyrics remains completely unparalleled to this day. Within their songs, one can hear influence from artists ranging from Joan Baez to Minor Threat, and the fact that the band were able to seamlessly blend such sounds is in itself a testament to their amazing abilities and sound. Furthermore, in an age when it is almost impossible to find an album that has not been over-produced, the raw, organic sound that runs throughout all of Front Seat Solidarity serves as a reminder as to the power and appeal of "real" rock music. It is the way that This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb brought together these wide ranging influences with sharp social commentary that made them such an amazingly unique group, and there is no question that true music fans were exceptionally disappointed when the band called it quits in February of 2011. All across the bands' catalog of EP's and LP's, there is not a "bad" moment to be found, and there are few musicians of his generation that can come even close to the talents displayed at every turn by Rymodee. Whether it is the wildly exciting musical arrangements, the focused, powerful vocals, or the lyrical theme that is impossible to ignore, there is no question that amidst an amazing recorded catalog, 2002's "Mouseteeth" stands as the finest moment in the career of This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, as well as one of the greatest songs in recent history.