Dead Broke Rekerds, BandCamp [Dead Broke], Amazon, iTunes)
Artist: Tender Defender (BandCamp)
Sometimes a band can be shackled with the burden of its members' previous projects. ALL will forever be known as the band guilty of not being the Descendents, while The Draft will be thought of as Hot Water Music without Chuck Ragan. Sometimes the comparisons are fair and even helpful in a group's formative years and sometimes the new band is able to build a legacy all its own and move out of the shadow of the previous band's legend (see Rancid and Operation Ivy or Fugazi and Minor Threat). Tender Defender's burden is Latterman.
Phil Douglas, Mattie Jo Canino, and Pat Schramm (3/4 of Latterman) first started playing music together when they were teenagers. The band broke up in 2007 and the three went on to play in Iron Chic, RVIVR, and Bridge & Tunnel respectfully. The idea for Tender Defender came after a series of Latterman reunion shows in 2012. The project took years to come to fruition due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that all three now live in different states. Luckily the band was able to find time and money to get together, write, and record an absolutely fucking brilliant debut EP.
Tender Defender soars with cathartic crescendos, mighty choruses, melody, and hooks thst defy you to not dance and shout along with gleeful abandon. On top of all that, the lyrics masterfully capture the frustrations, anxieties, and desperations of the grownup teenage outcast and misfit. Simply put, listening to Tender Defender is a visceral, if not religious, experience.
The band's sound is very similar to that of Latterman and Iron Chic which Dan Ozzi at Noisey described as "the sort of triumphant, melodic gruff-anthems that lean heavily on the “woah-ohs,” the fingerpoints, and the feel-good shoutbacks." This is a style that pulls from nearly all of the sub-genres of punk and mixes them perfectly creating a vibrant sound that is unique and familiar all at the same time. It's a sound that, one could argue, Douglas, Canino, and Schranm created in Latterman. It's a sound that has influenced a slew of modern punk bands (including some of the best currently in the genre). Now it's a sound that they have perfected in Tender Defender.
The record opens with "Hello Dirt," a rousing anthem with one of the best opening lyrics in punk rock history: "You get up, And say hello to the fucking dirt." I could go on and dissect each song, describing in detail how the lyrics and music connect with full force body blows, define and defy a sound simultaneously, and work so beautifully and perfectly together creating a transcendent experience but that still wouldn't do this record justice.
I really can't say enough good things about Tender Defender and truth be told 2016 is going to be hard pressed to produce anything that comes close to its intensity, power, and quality. This is the record of the year.