Aaron Cometbus, Rymodee of This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb, bikes, guitars…that seems a fitting intro for the reissue of The Blank Fight’s one and only album, House Band Feud. The cd was released in 2002 on Plan-it-X and, to steal a line from Silver Sprocket’s press sheet, many a songs have made it to mixtapes in the decade since. The reissue is on silver vinyl with remastering, an additional track, and an expanded copy of the original zine that accompanied the release.
Not surprisingly, The Blank Fight doesn’t sound much different than other Cometbus bands. Given that this was released in 2002, it’s especially similar to Cleveland Bound Death Sentence in many ways: the songs are short, blunt, and fast, with a hidden ear for melodic storyline lyrics that are equally sing-a-long worthy. Vocals are traded off between members, with Skott Cowgill (Headless Marines) taking the lead and Cindy Ovenrack (Doris zine) rounding out the band on bass. While it’s mostly driving punk rock and hyper power chords, a few folksy elements find their way into the songs, as in “Jack Johnson,” which also appears on a This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb album. Cowgill’s voice is rough, raw, and emotive, and there’s really not much consideration given toward singing in tune so much as moving the melody forward. As for an overall feel, take CBDS, a bit of Crimpshrine, and a splash of TBIAPB, and you’ve got a good idea.
While probably 75% of the record races past at CBDS speed, a handful of songs slow down and even drop in a harmonica bit. For the most part, these slower songs like “Song for K80 Bigtoe” and “19 Years, 40 Years” aren’t favorites, but the change of pace is refreshing. The chorus in “Old Trick” even had me thinking of old school Fifteen. Favorites come in the form of “Madison Truckstop,” “Hutterites in North America,” and the first song, “This Bike + This Guitar,” which feels a bit ahead of its time as far as grasping the philosophy behind a lot of folk-punk. All of this, of course, comes via Cometbus’ first person narrative that largely focuses on a perspective of life on the road.
Considering how often I still play the Cleveland Bound Death Sentence compilation, it’s nice to have a companion piece for it that, like Silver Sprocket already explained, will find its way onto many of my own mixes. This is definitely a re-issue that Cometbus fans will want to pick up.