Local CD Review: The Tenderhooks

New Ways to Butcher English

The Tenderhooks strip the twang from the jangle-pop of their earlier efforts and emphasize the “power” part of power pop on New Ways to Butcher English, the surprisingly quick follow-up to last year’s Vidalia. New Ways starts with the dead-end-job kiss-off “Customer Service,” a chugging, bitter riff topped off by Ben Oyler’s distinctive lead guitar and a lilting-but-angry chorus (“My ideas, man, but no one gives a damn except me”). “Local Boys Done Good Don’t Go to Jail” hits even harder, with frontman Jake Winstrom’s high-pitched vocals twisted into a biting sneer and another snarling solo from Oyler. Winstrom and Oyler, the band’s principal songwriters, show an increasingly intuitive partnership, meshing Winstrom’s pop tendencies with fluid, jazzy instrumental passages, and the band’s rhythm section—bassist Emily Robinson and drummer Matt Honkonen—holds down subtle but tricky time changes. (Robinson also demonstrates confident harmony vocals on the closing acoustic number “Roofbeams.”) The sound is raw and immediate, reflecting a pair of marathon sessions in New York this spring and summer, but New Ways feels fully formed.

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