(Self-released, digital download)
For those who attended grade school between the mid-1980s and early 1990s, few scholarly accoutrements were more important than the Trapper Keeper. With the possible exceptions of the lunch box and one’s choice of Velcro or laced shoes, the style and condition of one’s Trapper Keeper was the ultimate primary-school status symbol. Was it overly neat and organized? You were probably a nerd. Banged up and overstuffed? You probably sat in the back of the class. And if, God forbid, you had one of those generic three-ring binders? You were probably the weird kid with messy hair who always smelled vaguely of SpaghettiO’s. You could tell a lot about a kid by his or her Trapper Keeper.
What, then, to make of Burlington’s Trapper Keeper ? On their ferocious debut, Deadass, the mysterious new kids in school prove they may just be the cool kids as well. Clocking in at eight songs and 14 minutes, this is a blistering essay on ragged pop-punk, loaded with crunching distortion, anthemic hooks and snarling angst.
In truth, Trapper Keeper aren’t really new kids at all. The band is composed of Queen City scene vets, including Husbands AKA ’s Chris Valyou (bass) and Alex Pond (drums), and guitarist and vocalist Will Rutkowski (ex-Unrestrained) . Maybe call them transfer students?
Much like Husbands, Trapper Keeper know their way around a fist-pumping punk anthem. The record opens with “GD Amy Cool Your Jets,” a bombastic cut in which the band manages to cram a couple of verses, a torrid hook and even an appropriately jangly breakdown in the span of a scintillating one minute and eight seconds. TK are nothing if not efficient.
The remainder of the record follows in similarly bracing fashion. “Songs In Those Chords” offers a classic sing-along chorus and healthy doses of punk-y self loathing in the verses. “Only Dicks Don’t Like Green Day” is as awesomely bratty as its title implies — as is the closer, “Bill Fucking Murray.” And “It’s Only 1,930 Miles to Austin” is pure, breakneck punk. “One Big Punch Versus Another” is the centerpiece and features (relatively speaking) the most compositional sophistication on the album, with time changes and hooks to spare.
For a new band, Trapper Keeper are impressively tight, though not so pristine as to smooth away their scraggy appeal. Husbands bandmates Valyou and Pond, not surprisingly, are in lockstep throughout. Pond in particular forms the backbone with an array of percussive punk trickery. With his rock-tumbler-in-the-throat vocal delivery and appropriately ragged guitar lines, Will Rutkowski provides most of the tattered, frayed-at-the-sleeves energy. So, yes, you can tell a lot about someone by his or her Trapper Keeper. It turns out Burlington’s is pretty rad.
Trapper Keeper celebrate their debut with a show at the Monkey House this Tuesday, January 17, with the Independents, the Have Nots, Montréal’s the Real Deal and the Murder Weapon. Deadass is available for download at trapperkeeper.bandcamp.com .