Hailing from Tennessee, Cheap Time has been around in one incarnation or another since 2006. The nucleus has always been Jeffrey Novak, who writes and sings in addition to playing guitar and keyboards. The band began with members of the band Be Your Own Pet rounding out the lineup—theirs was a sound of a teen punk band with more attitude than musicianship, owing more than a little to early Redd Kross. By the time Cheap Time recorded their debut album, the personnel had changed drastically and, in addition to improved musicianship, Novak brought in influences of ’70s glam and power pop acts like Sparks and The Quick. The band followed this with more lineup shuffles and a sophomore album, Fantastic Explanations (and Similar Situations), that was darker, moodier and more complex than its predecessor. Despite the many changes, however, Cheap Time has always been a sum of its parts. A quintessential ingredient is the low-fi bombast with which they scuzz up their otherwise lightweight brand of simplified 1970s glam punk, packing an impressive amount of adolescent snottiness into two-minute blasts of sound with both precision and melody. Cheap Time are now back with their third and by far strongest record to date. Recorded in Novak’s new home studio, Wallpaper Music distills perfectly all the phases through which the band has passed to date. Retaining both the punk moves and pop-damaged glam jams, the band delivers their most realized, cohesive record yet. Songs like “More Cigarettes” and “Another Time” are Aussie-esque punkers in a Saints-like vein, while “Underneath the Fruit Flies” shows that Novak has found a happy medium between his punk tendencies and his desire to experiment. This latest installment will satisfy anyone who has been keeping track of this band’s trajectory and make them look forward to what might come next.
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