by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
Therapy Island is the first full length record from California trio Cheekface, led by Greg Katz and Amanda Tannen, and it’s a record full of pop-punk and off-kilter ‘slacker indie-rock’. Katz intones his witticisms, anxieties and angst over a record full of far ranging melodies and creative interplay of guitar (Katz), bass (Tannen), and drums provided by Mark ‘Echo’ Edwards. Katz wears many hats in the music world and operates New Professor Records, but here his songwriting partnership with Tannen proves sharp and incisive on whatever they tackle be it personal concerns, politics, or just poking fun at whatever crosses their minds. Cheekface come from a Los Angeles/California scene that clearly influence and associate with each other and it pushes development from the assorted bands that can be heard with each release.
“Dry Heat/Nice Town” opens the record with a bunch of clever barbs of disgust thrown towards the way of the world and the overt power of consumerism and pursuit of capital. Katz tackles a lot here and it comes off powerful, but he’s also not afraid to throw some barbs at his own attitude as well as those that may fall in line. “I Only Say I’m Sorry When I’m Wrong Now” follows suit with some lines that will honestly find yourself widely smiling at, over a Dismemberment Plan-ish groove and angularity. Katz and Tannen find a melodic pocket vocally that is utterly charming and makes the song breeze by which is unfortunate and a small complaint.
“Eternity Leave” is a fast-paced keyboard led blur of feeling overwhelmed by life in general and insecurities that Katz rapidly spits out to a somewhat heart-wrenching manner. “Glendale” is a jaunt of observation on mundanity and self-deprecation laden with cowbell and bouncing bass with squeals of distortion wiggling all the way through dirtying everything up along the way. “Crud” is bursting and cynical punk with Katz upping the attitude and personal anxieties over cheerful and bright backing harmonies from Tannen. The song really clicks on all gears and Williams provides a powerful display of fills and just a forceful backbone in general.
Therapy Island provides Katz and Tannen a way to work through insecurities and concerns in a way that is extremely charming and catchy. Cheekface manage to take difficult subject matter to heart, but also don’t allow the listener to get overwhelmed with gloom or despair as the enthusiasm on display is infectious throughout the record. Somehow Cheekface manage to meld the anxieties of modern-day existence expressed lyrically seamlessly with cheerful, bright and bouncing melodies that are just full of joy and humor in a way that doesn’t minimize the importance of issues tackled within. This is a record that maintains a heft in it’s ideas and words, but also a lightness that can not be extinguished, a feat that needs to be applauded and a record that deserves many listens as there’s something new to be heard every time.