As the five members of 1220 enter their 20s, it’s getting a little late to consider them boy wonders anymore. What started as a high-school band is now one of Knoxville’s longest-running groups, even if they’ve just now reached the legal age to enter some of the clubs where they’ve been playing since the early 2000s. So there’s no allowance for age in considering Killin’ for a Livin’, the follow-up to 2007’s Miss Legendary. Not that the band needs any cheating—eight years together have turned 1220 into a tight performing and songwriting unit, and Don Coffey Jr.’s clean production gives them room to shine on the new disc.
Killin’ is pretty straight-ahead rock, with hints of punk velocity (“Alright Uptight,” “Roll With It”) and even more substantial strains of classic ’70s power pop (“Motor Mile,” “Feel Young”). The songs are smart and efficient; the longest is less than three-and-a-half minutes long, and four are under three minutes. There are traces of John Davis’ Beatles-influenced alternative hard pop, and singer Jacob Gibson’s nasal delivery sometimes recalls the Tenderhooks’ Jake Winstrom, but 1220 has found a way to work their influences, however obvious they might be, into a distinctive sound of their own. Originality’s not exactly the point when you’re folding the past into the present.