Nashville, Tennessee’s punk warlords Cheap Time soldier on, delivering
their fourth studio album. Produced once again by band leader /
singer / guitarist Jeffrey Novak at his home studio, Exit Smiles builds
off the sound of 2012’s Wallpaper Music, employing sharper production
and more expansive songwriting. Along with danceable artrock
stompers like “Kill the Light,” and “Slow Variety,” the album
also includes more progressive material like “Modern Taste” and the
abrasive title track that opens the album.
Taking everything up a notch is new bassist Jessica McFarland
(vocalist of Heavy Cream), whose voice is the perfect counterpoint
to Novak’s Bailey / Devoto punk snarl. McFarland’s tight bass playing
fits right in the pocket between Novak’s overblown guitar chords
and drummer Ryan Sweeney’s endless, Moon-y drum fills. Sweeney
is Cheap Time’s backbone, an integral part of the band since 2010’s
Fantastic Explanations. His drumming is powerful and relentless, especially
on songs like “Country and City.”
Where most bands drag or burn out around their second album,
Cheap Time are students of rock history. They tread in the footsteps
of their ’70s heroes—like Sparks or Alice Cooper—learning from the
shortcomings of previous works and continuing to develop their craft.
They’ve worn out their John Cale and Peter Hammill LPs, and finally
delivered the classic punk album for 2013!