The Tim Version really should know better. Formed in 1999, old friends Scott Laval (vocals, guitar), Mike Paul (bass), Russ Van Cleave (guitar) and Shawn Watkins (drums, vocals) have whiled away fifteen years crashing around in sweaty clubs, drinking hard, playing fast and kicking out some of the drunkest, brattiest punk rock in the whole of Florida. Like a behind-the-bike-sheds gang of surly teenagers that never grew up, they still list their Facebook interests as huffing spray paint, sniffing markers and space docking. What a tremendous way to live your life.
Now senior hell raisers and provocateurs of Tampa Bay’s independent rock scene, their latest album Ordinary World shows no signs of the chaps slowing down and reaching for the pipe and slippers just yet. Spitting adolescent fury and thrash and bang chaos, opener For The Birds hits like smack in the face, full of unruly energy and snarling, snotbag attitude. The 100-mph rush continues with the strained thunder of Hello, Waterface and the gonzo bounce-along of Plague of Dogs and opens up some emotion with a heart-on-sleeve, highway anthem on Funny Movies.
There’s no disguising the influence of The Replacements, The Ramones and Misfits and an ‘us against the world’ mentality that bellows loud, proud and unapologetically. Like all great garage bands there’s a nihilism and sloppy, scrappy low-fi rawness to it all, mixed with sense of marginalised, screaming frustration. Located in Tampa away from the more organised and community based college scene in Gainesville, the band strike as wilful outsiders growling in the face of straight laced, mundane conformity.
Beyond the venting and boisterous anarchy, Southern twangs and rootsy croons show another side of their character. Holidays and Birfdays strums into a crusty cry for help whilst Die In Yer Sleep glides from a melancholy, lonesome pedal steel ballad into a Lynyrd Skynyrd country rock heart wrencher. It feels like the bit in Blues Brothers when they infiltrate a country and western bar and pacify the rowdy rednecks with versions of Rawhide and Stand By Your Man.
Overall it’s an exercise in growing old disgracefully delivered with ballast and bile. An adrenalin shot of rebel yell, punk rock spirit that softens into Southern storytelling and whiskey-drenched honesty.