Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tile "Come On Home, Stranger"

"Come On Home, Stranger"
Limited Appeal
Release date: Friday, August 17th 2018

Hometown Record Release Show:
Friday August 17, @ St. Bernards, Bethlehem PA

Tile's "Come On Home, Stranger" deftly combines the best of vintage noise rock offered by record labels such as AmRep, SubPop and Touch & Go with current heavy musical influences for twelve songs of delicious mayhem.  

Morekin photo by Jamie Heim

TILE is Michael Morekin (guitar/vocals), Ray Gurz (bass/vocals) and Michael Dumoff (drums). Tile is headquartered in the Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania (Allentown and vicinity), which is also where I have resided for most of the last five decades.

"Come On Home, Stranger" was permanently, sonically documented at Shards Recording Studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with the assistance of owner and engineer Matt Molchany.

The general musical theme is a dirge, a word which here means a mournful song or piece of music. You have feedback, pounding and yelling. Influences from Unsane, Cows, Chokebore, Laughing Hyenas, Torche/Floor and maybe a nod to fellow Pennsylvania noise-mongers, Pissed Jeans. 

All those influences are expertly crafted to create twelve songs that are actually catchy, a word which here means a tune that is instantly appealing and memorable. Dirge with hooks.

I asked Ray if he had lyrics available for me to read. I am horrible at understanding even the most distinct and easily interpreted lyrics. So, no. Ray didn't get me any lyric sheet. So that has left me to figure this out on my own.

With that said, I truly believe the band must have spent much of the last four years since their debut LP, seriously considering the titles, lyrics and order the songs would be arranged on the record.

Tile leads you in with the inviting album title, "Come On Home, Stranger", complete with welcoming artwork.

Photo by Tim_Wynarczuk

The first track starts off with an upbeat, killer drum beat, then brutal low end guitars with plenty of feedback. Oh yeah. This is gonna be fun. The track is titled "Change The World", with the (as I hear it) lyric, "I'm gonna change the world, when I wake up, I'm gonna push you down, when I stand up". So yeah, changing the world is a good thing, but we start to see another side with the qualifications, a word which here means a restriction in meaning or application: a limiting modification

Track two is called "Swing Away", which has a ruthless Torche-like riff. I interpret swinging away, as a baseball term, like reaching for the fences, going for broke... but then you hear the lyrics snarling "drama queen" and "be nice to your sister" and I get the impression we are not really having fun on this record and maybe the invitation might be more sinister than welcoming.

"Be More", track three, sounds like more inspirational talk. The musical direction is abrasive and pounding. There is a Big Black feel to a portion of the song (awesome). When they belt out, "He's home", it doesn't sound quite like, "yeah, Daddy's home". More like a dire pronouncement. "Trying to get the joke, trying to get you to smoke".  

It becomes completely clear by track four, "Father", that any possible cheery implications  the title may have lead you to believe were quite sarcastic.  "You left too soon". Geez. I can't make out much other but this song feels brutally devastating. A magnificently executed musical death march.

Photo by Jamie Heim

All hope is erased with "Flammable Human" (subtlety is gone), which is yet another example of Tile's talent for arranging different styles, sounds, direction to create memorable songs. These tracks are crafted. 

"I'll End You" begins as a haunting procession, developing into a heavy sludge attack and ending with an obvious threat.

We get a breath with "Play Safe", which of course leads to a false sense of security. One of the most driving songs of the dozen. The guitar tone touches that sound that I so love. Mixed with a drum beat that always brings to mind the Exploited. You may not get my reference, but believe me, it brings a vicious smile to my face. An explosive, hardly safe song. "Oh God help me".

After the driving, "Play Safe", remarkably, "Landmines" takes it to another level of energy, tension and release. 

"One Cold Knife" sounds like we are about to bring this story to a conclusion, and this sounds like The Cherubs covering early Saccharine Trust songs (this is a good thing and in my mind sounds like this song). "Lard Rats" continues in this brutal, punishing, heavy noise theme. "Hey there, nightmare, its been so long since I've seen you".

Doubling back to the enticing titles that lead to beautiful ugliness themes, up next we have have "Pleasure Chaser". I think Ray is telling us "Doomsday is here". Again, the musically distinctive parts of the songs are varied and expertly assembled. Building and crashing, effectively creating moods, painting a picture, taking you on an aural ride.

Photo by Jamie Heim

The closure occurs in "Room Ten". I think there was physical and emotional pain in that room. Just down the hall from Black Flag's "Room 13".

But then again, I can't understand lyrics very well. But I can understand music... and "Come On Home, Stranger" is a mighty album that will be on my best of 2018 list... 

Give it a listen... Buy the vinyl.


Frank FOE

Check out the Rooftop Video Sessions of Tile

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