Hard Ticket has grown to be the poster child of the slacker, gritty punk rock scene in St. John’s as of late, and with good reason.
Something doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to stand safely. They recycle a time-tested aesthetic, but back it up with some novel production flourishes to bring the songs to life. It’s a mixture of three chord garage rock staples, but with an added dissonance that’s intentionally mixed in to give it some character. From talking crowds to surf runs, it uses the core music as a backdrop for weird and wonderful vignettes.
It’s akin to early Sonic Youth and other noisy precursors. Those classic albums that taught us that real creativity exists not in reinventing the wheel, but to put it on a car that backfires, that stalls, that is simply a pleasure to drive no matter how many suits stop and stare.
Think Pavement’s first EPs; Modest Mouse’s “This is a Long Drive”; The Cramps. There’s a legacy that’s been built from “wrong” notes sounding oh-so-right, and it takes creative minds to use that formula to make cool, new music. It so often fails because it does it just for the sake of it. Hard Ticket doesn’t do that.
What Odds, for all its discordance, is calculated and constructed in the same vein as those classic albums, paying homage to their ethic (or lack thereof). Call it reckless attention to detail and a willingness to explore. Whatever it is, it’s far more than the mix of paced garage rock and uptempo punk punches that make up its skeleton. Overwrought bends, quick fuzz smacks, and flat notes add more than they detract. If everything on this album was pitch perfect, it would lack gravitas and would, ironically, fall flat.
But even if you strip away the excess, it still stands as a killer album. Meg Harnum’s one of my favourite drummers around; she’s direct, she’s intense, and she plows through every song with real power. Jonny May’s guitar layers on the noisy essence. The constantly doubled, contrasting vocals of Mitch Dyke and Nicole Squires add a dimension that fills out everything, loosens it up and strips any sort of polish away.
Producer Jake Nicoll definitely put his touch on the record, but you can tell the band set out to make this weird poppy garage rock album regardless of who sat behind the board. It’s an added bonus that such a seasoned ingenious soul was there to put it all together.
I really like this album. If ya don’t “What Odds” I says. Stream or buy the album here.