Cheap Time latest full-length, Wallpaper Music, was reviewed by The Agit Reader today.
Published on May 8th 2012:
" Not content to merely cycle through a bunch of Ramones riffs and call it a day, Jeffrey Novak has brought a heightened sense of songwriting and experimentation to his version of hook-filled punk and garage. With his solo work, Novak pays homage to iconoclastic solo artists such as Kevin Ayers and John Cale, and though Cheap Time is a much more aggressive endeavor, the band is likewise a showcase for Novak’s distinctive musical idiosyncrasies.
On its self-titled debut, Cheap Time was very much a loud, fuzzy punk band that blared out bratty glam and power-pop melodies. There were glimpses of Novak’s potential for eccentricity via the occasional analog squiggle, but it was a more or less straightforward endeavor. On the band’s third full-length, Wallpaper Music, Cheap Time has solidified as a unit and fully integrated Novak’s various tastes and influences into a final product wherein the sum is very much greater than the parts.
On Wallpaper Music, Cheap Time is still rooted in the basics: punk, power-pop, and glam. Tracks such as “Another Time” and “Night to Night” are tough rockers that spotlight the trio’s ability to play it straight and throw a punch to the gut if necessary. Other tracks are more unconventional, though. “Straight and Narrow” is a glittery sci-fi number built on a martial cadence and a ray-gun guitar. “Dream It Up” starts off with a rickety drum-machine beat before exploding into a Hawkwind-like stratosphere. “Take It If You Want It” is a jangly, jaunty pop tune that displays Novak’s love for quirky British songwriters and is perhaps the catchiest song on the album. “Underneath the Fruit Flies,” a dark, gnarled seven-minute-plus workout, closes out the album and works as the perfect unsettling ending to a curious record.
Novak, though possessed of one of the most deliriously snotty voices out there, is smarter than your average punker, and Wallpaper Music is hard evidence of that fact. Like his friend and fellow rocker, the late Jay Reatard, Novak hasn’t let his chosen genre pen in his abilities as a songwriter. The instrumentation alone here includes piano, organ, flute, kazoo and stylophone, and shows Novak’s restlessness and his sense of possibility. The songs reference any number of styles, but the album has cohesion and never feels like a kitchen-sink gimmick. The melodies are at once catchy and familiar but twist and turn go in unexpected directions. And all this on a mere “punk” record. That’s talent. And in using his talent in this way Novak transcends whatever category Cheap Time gets lumped into and stands firmly on his own as an artist." - Nate Knaebel
Audio samples and purchasing options for Wallpaper Music can be found HERE.
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