The Tosspints – The Privateer
Throw everything you know out the window about folk/rock, because The Tosspints and their blackout drunk take on the genre is a lot harder rocker than anything I’ve yet to encounter. They stow away the acoustic guitars in the shed and instead unleash an electrifying mix of hard guitar meat that’s completely something different than the genre usually offers. The trio from Saginaw, Michigan isn’t fooling around on their 4th LP, The Privateer and it’s obvious they want you up and moving, instead of head down and moping. Mumford and Sons this sure isn’t by a longshot!
Fuzzy, dirt-bag riffing makes its impact known right off the bat in the punk-loaded opener, “Pirates Life” where vocals echo back and forth like gunshots, guitars buzzsaw their way through heavy punk riffs and the rhythms are more concerned with breaking bones than healing wounded. “Untitled Western” lays off the throttle if only slightly for a finger pickin’, rural-inflected punk/country groove with rustic lyrics, persistent work from Johnson’s snare and a heckuva lot of groove from bassist Zak Zuzula’s low-end. This is the kind of tune that makes you want to get on your trusty steed and charge across the dessert chasing an escaped convict. “Marching On” utilizes lyrics and arrangements from another classic song (that I won’t reveal here), but its context in an original punk-y, rock n’ rolling song is well-implemented and doesn’t simply feel like a “cover” in any shape or form. A sad ode to drinking Hank Williams’ style, “My Last and Only Friend” is a song rooted in the bottle with equal parts sad, somber sections of being on the last leg of life with several dust-storm kick ups into tumbleweed rock n’ roll that helps maintain a well-straddled balance that never falters in its run-time.
“Hollow Man” dials things down for a slow song with just enough interjections of punk/rock to keep it lively and locked on. Don Zuzula’s voice is a highlight as is his intricately picked guitar lines which hint at several different genres without ever letting one fall to the wayside. “How do you feel” ups the punk ante but still delegates it to introspective moments without ever letting an acoustic guitar wander in and ruin the mix. After all, this is a rock based record and they always keep that notion in full view. “Sailor’s Grave” is tossing and turning like the waves of the sea much akin to the fireball opener a “Pirates Life” where the riffs are off the chain, shambling forth with punk rock might as the rhythm section colors in the background with aggressive playing that never falter for even a second. Again teetering between soulful, bluesy songwriting and bursts of S.O.S. punk rock, “The Dregs” has a moniker that fits both its musical and lyrical subject matter with a lot of crusty, electric guitar licks bringing the heat at all times. Massive, sprawling closer the title track runs well over 10 minutes in length and toys with arcane folk led by a crying violin before stopping/starting between folk, high octane punk and aggressive rock for the duration of its course. At its extremely long running time it could have benefitted from a little editing on the cutting room floor, but it’s still a damn good song in its own right.
Overall, The Privateer makes far more right moves than wrong moves, and there is a fury here that most “folk” bands could only hope of achieving in their lifetime. This album is as angry as it is pretty, as restrained as it is off-the-cuff and the results speak for themselves. Anyone into the harder, darker side of folk would do well to give The Tosspints a listen, just make sure you have a handy supply of alcohol on hand for your listening session and you’ll be A-okay.
8 out of 10 stars.