Tiger Army- S/T
If you were to ask a few people by the names of Fred Hell, Adam Carson, London May, or Geoff Kresge, about a man named Nick 13, they would all have a very simple, subtle comment. ďTiger Army Never Dies!" All these men are, or were, some of the many members in the line-up of the 90ís to present-day psychobilly band, Tiger Army. Once founded in San Francisco back in 1995, by bassist Joel Day and present, notorious front-man, Nick 13, the band underwent the weight of being shuffled by band members that were replaced every few months in the bandís early touring era. The band toured with fresh material around California for some time before, a few years later, they were stamped with their band motto and the energetic phrase that no fan should thrive about the industrieís sounds without. 1999 was the year that clearly marked the bandís new life and the fresh start that later became a large success. They released their self titled debut-album that is to this day recognized as the place to begin if youíre to set sail on the psychobilly journey, and an album that is highly overlooked, but at the same time, awfully underrated by others.
If you ask me, I am still highly puzzled as to why Nick would have named the band ďTiger Army", as there are nearly no lyrics or any other indications reflecting on the animal itself. Whatever the reason, I say it shouldnít matter, and to crack open the confined structure the album is incased in, and let it all out. Like a wild tiger. Eh, maybe thatís it. I canít say the bandís sound hasnít changed at all over the years because that would indeed be a horrible lie that would make many sad. Being honestly straightforward, this is the bandís very best album to date and knowing how I bow to debuts, it holds the material that brought the band to be whatever people see them as now. It will always stay true to their psychobilly counter-parts, but in the past have been very fond of other approaches as well. This album shines with variety that immediately satisfies unless you have decided to take a look just to be bored. The band uses a case full of effects to go around the often lighting-paced material that fills in the void of 13 or so tracks on here.
The lineup at the time the debut was recorded was perhaps the most successful match, and one hell of a highly-cooperative trio that truly work together to deliver what the listener. The brain as it has always been, is front-man, plainly named Nick 13. Nick writes most of the composition on here, as well as the lyrics that revolve around the stories being told. Nickís biggest contribution to the band is the plainly what the band stands for, and the image that he has laid upon the members. Most of the bandís lyrics focus around the presence of night, love, and tragedy, all presented with strong hooks that stand for all these with ridiculous success. Nickís guitar-work is nothing over special, but since heís the only guitarist here, he does a great job maintaining the specifically-paced lyrics, often howled and yelled, while firing out that riff that originally hooked you in. Solos come and go, but nothing too mind-expanding or impressive. It seems like common procedure for Nick to halt the music on a track and either whistle you or softly summarize what has happened in their story, thus clearing up some conflict and add a pinch of sentimentality. Once again, not the best musician on here, but thanks to a lot of his work, you donít just hear his tales, youíre in a man-made environment that could only be done by him and his tactics.
Rob Peltier takes over bass duties on the album, and as the whole genre is set on the standards of the bass, you will always feel the constant presence of the instrument on your brain as you listen. A lot of psychobilly and punk, for this case, simply revolves around the bass playing a crescendo of ascending patterns that throw out enough notes to accompany the others a plenty, and provide his share. Sounds like scales, yet, they incorporate the touch of Nickís guitar-work and sometimes vocal repetition, thus holding a steady pace while putting on a show. Very well-thought out and sounds great although eventually, tempos donít reach a speed in which itís exactly highly enjoyable to listen to. The manís sound is a churning pattern set ablaze and let loose in a song that you wouldnít think calls for it, but ends up in there anyways, and owns.
Peltierís background vocals on this often reach a high point where theyíre highly dependable, and sometimes ditches Nick altogether and gives us a separate interaction, although without alternating the topic by any means. He is the best musician on here, and while doesnít interact very well with drummer Adam Carson, he puts on a show only this side of the horrifically-twisted album can lead you to. Adam Carson is set on pretty basic grounds and holds little potential. You can hear his screams at times when heís about to descend into a full battalion of tom patterns that can easily rip open a chorus and simply make it better. His fast-paced double-bass punk beat comes standard with one single repetitive crash cymbal and is pounded away at every other song. It gets the job done in a very boring fashion, but there will be moments where it would seem as nothing would proceed to the end without a little tom here and there.
Itís the styles of the bandís material that got them far as well. They work with the fast-paced punk, with more raw, undisputed, and highly distorted riffage that will lead to an epidemic of chaos and end in a halt. The bandís anthem, Never Die
is a perfect example, and holds the true roots that can always be seen. The acclaimed psychobilly style which tends to not be as fast but feature as many effects as a Texas Fourth Of July would hold. Iím talking about chimes, church bells, foggy, creeping guitar-work, ascending bass-work and echo effect on vocals. The band will also get serious and dive into a half-ballad/half-western in the score Outlaw Heart
. This is a special listen, and changes perspectives immediately. Another one-of-a-kind lies along the lines of the Eddie Cochran cover, Twenty Flight Rock
. That gents, is rockabilly mixed with Nick 13ís own concoction of tricks to create something unexpected but still very classic. All these stand alone but in the end, incorporate all that Tiger Army offers and comes through with.
I learned to like this album a lot more after a few listens through, and as you begin to appreciate the new mix of fused ideas led by Nick over here, youíll open your eyes to a new album that may catch your attention. With so many fuses, who knows? Give it a try, and you can decide for yourself. These are three big tatooeíd punks with surprisingly revealing white wife-beaters singing about the unforgiving black night, and corrupted love. Misleading, but an album like this hits, and really, who the hell would have seen it coming? This album still stands as the bandís best and continues to by a big portion of the bandís fans. The albums the boysí standards and gave them the phrase that apparently to them, canít be broken. ďTiger Army Never Dies"Ö. Iím not too sure about that one, Iíd better leave that up to them, but to me itís a definite that the higher ground achieved by this album will not fade away from the impact site that is punk rock anytime soon.
- Tiger Army
Nick 13- Guitar, Vocals
Rob Peltier- Stand-Up Bass, Vocals
Adam Carson- Drums
Stand Out Tracks:
Twenty Flight Rock