Reviews The Tim Version Decline of the Southern Gentleman

The Tim Version

Decline of the Southern Gentleman

At The Fest last fall I saw a lot of bands, most of which I had a previous idea of what they were about beforehand. One band I didn’t know, but lucked out to see because they were slotted before Bloodbath & Beyond and Tiltwheel, was Tampa's The Tim Version. Decline of the Southern Gentleman in the group's newest release and their first on No Idea Records. No Idea and the aforementioned bands are a good basis when trying to identify the melodic-yet-gruff punk of The Tim Version. At times their melodies remind me of catchier bands like Off With Their Heads, but their more aggressive moments also spring thoughts of Avail. Then, when you think you've got them pegged as a fast, hoarse Florida band they'll throw in a song that sounds like Lucero recorded in a moldy basement. In form with other No Idea bands, the album rushes through twelve songs in just over half an hour, with frantic drumming, fast chords, and group choruses. But, after a few songs of this formula, the band breaks into "Too Many Saturday Nights," a county-influenced ballad that has me picturing a drunken crowd of twenty to thirty-year-old men swaying arm in arm and holding their beers in the air for the sing-a-long, "I've been the asshole and I ain't too proud, but I still hang out with a drinking crowd." After the 4:13 lament (one of few songs to top three minutes), singer Russ Van Cleave returns to belting out some of the harshest screams I've heard in melodic punk since the first American Steel record. For the most part, the sound remains the same until the album’s closer, "League Minimum." This song, also countrified, sounds like it was recorded in the dawn hours after a long night of partying. While not bad, it feels tacked on at the end, and would fit better as a bonus track or b-side. Lyrically, the band takes a mature approach to the punk lifestyle, looking at the contradicting effects of partying without resorting to preachiness. In "Mark's Albatross," they profess "Tonight's the night to make John Belushi proud." The lyrics talk of self-destruction, but the gang-vocals give it a vibe that the band doesn't take themselves too seriously to have a good time. There are a lot of socio-political considerations on the record but they generally avoid the sloganeering that bogs down a lot of lyrics. Perhaps the most anthemic song is "Murder," featuring the chorus:

If I could get away with murder like so many often do, there'd be no CEOs or politicians lying to me or you. Every person held accountable for every wicked end would have to justify their actions or I'd turn a gun on them.

Despite the extreme nature of the excerpt, it's paired with the catchiest chorus on the record, and the brief song explanation in the booklet serves to clarify any misinterpretations. Compared with Prohibition Starts Tomorrow (2003), which is my only prior familiarity with their discography, Decline of the Southern Gentleman’s fast/slow balance works more to the band's favor and the band has a more definite sound. As long as Van Cleave's vocal chords can handle the abuse, I’ll look forward to additional The Tim Version releases.

8.8 / 10Loren
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8.8 / 10

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