We might be biased but some great music is currently being made within the rugged confines of Northeastern Ohio. Many come from working class backgrounds and play with grit and unmatched authenticity. Few bands may encapsulate this driving Cleveland spirit as much as rockers Stalemate. The band plays with punk intensity infused with pop melodies. After going through some lineup changes, the band has settled nicely into a four-piece on their new LP Permanent Things. It is a genuine and relentless collection of twelve songs that will have you dreaming of the alluring gray skies of the Buckeye state.
I’ve always thought that you can tell a lot about a band by looking at two things, the length of their songs and the song titles. First, the band keeps a concise three minute and under policy for the majority of the album. I dig this because it plays to their punk sensibilities without being over done or becoming stale. The tunes stay fresh and repeatable. The second band identifier I love about them are their song titles themselves. “Hearts Wrapped in Tin Foil” offers a solid beginning to the album as well as a fun visual. Set to a rumbling bass and solid guitar kick, the song showcases Stalemate’s pop leanings. “You don’t have to pretend everyone is your friend” is great advice for a cautious generation and probably my favorite line in the album.
“Bones/Teeth” immediately intensifies the album with exceptional drum work from Rob Schuster and the indelible punk groanings of guitarist/vocalist Joe Fish. In this case, the title beautifully illustrates the type of song you’re in for and compliments the cleverly named “I Smell a Rat” nicely with the same unwavering energy.
“J.F.K. Memorial Parkway” starts like another Cleveland band, Cloud Nothings and could easily be a B-side for one of their albums. It is an aggressive tune played fast and tight without losing the undercurrent of pop. If you were to isolate one track on the album as being the gem of the lot, this is definitely it. However, my personal favorite might go to “Andy Kaufman vs. Jerry Lawler” (which for the record, Jerry Lawler is also from our home state). What starts as an early Blink 182 themed song, develops into a growling bass heavy punch to the gut. The songwriting might be at it’s best on this particular track about the grand spectacle of life and the many faces we put on.
If these twelve songs are signs of things to come, then the future looks bright for the boys in Stalemate. If you dig uncompromising rock that shakes the soul and rocks your flesh, then Permanent Things is destined for you. Show them some love and download their criminally inexpensive album here.
Stalemate are currently on their six month “Weekend Warrior” tour in support of Permanent Things and have dates set through June, including shows in New York and Nashville.
1/15 – Nashville, TN
1/16 – Atlanta, GA
2/6 – Pittsburgh, PA
3/5 – Kalamazoo, MI
3/19 – Akron, OH
4/9 – Columbus, OH
4/23 – Chicago, IL
5/14 – Philadelphia, PA
6/10 – New York, NY
6/11 – Boston, MA