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  The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter  
  The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter  
  Russian Winter  
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When this promo came into EvilSponge HQ, we stopped and chuckled. This band's name is a delightful take on the overused "feel good hit of the summer" trope that gets rolled out every year. Good on these guys for coming up with a clever name.

And that clever name earned them a listen, so i downloaded it and well, wow, this kicks ass.

TFBHOTW are a trio from Kansas City, Missouri who have crafted a really fun six song EP that clocks in under 30 minutes. The music is crunchy pop punk with echoed vocals layered behind the guitar. At times they get a little shoegazery with chiming guitars and lots of feedback.

The EP kicks off with a trebly guitar, overdriven and wailing away in Lend A Hand. The rhythm comes in ponderously at first, then tearing at it, reminding me of Husker Du, slightly. And then the voice is added, echoed and distant, a faint mopey blur, and suddenly this is early 80s stuff. A little crunchier on the guitar, but that voice gives it a great new wave feel.

Smile takes us further into the 1980s. The guitar kind of jangles as the drums tap along lightly. On the chorus the band really reminds me of the early work from The Ocean Blue, or maybe some of the mellower moments of early Smiths. This is a slow new wave tune, and a damned good one.

The guitar squeals an intro to Chato, a song that slowly builds from "Gang of 4 on downers" to rollicking post-punk a la British Sea Power. Mind The Monsters starts mopey but gets nicely noisy, the guitars chugging alongside mechanically precise drumming and a great throbbing bass line.

So Far No Good is another real winner. I love the vocal part here, which i think they wrote for Johnny Rotten to sing, but he is busy being a public ass on the BBC so they had to do it themselves. They do it admirably, singing in a whine that is snotty and annoyed and bored and angry all at once. It's another anthem for disaffected people, and, honestly, can we disaffected people ever have enough anthems? Sing it brother!

Finally the EP ends with Sleepwalking. This is a really catchy song, the guitar grinding as a hi-hat taps like crazy. It just has a wonderful head-bopping beat, ending what is a kind of mopey EP on a very up note.

This is sort of lo-fi and the songs are a little formulaic -- crunchy guitar intro, sparse guitar verse, whole band going crazy on the chorus, then a brief drum solo (no, really, most of the songs have a 10 second or so drum solo!). Still, it works. There is something there, that ineffable little bit of passion or energy that separates the competent performer from the actual musician...

I don't know the words for what i am referring to here, but there is something in The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter that i find lacking in a lot of the promo records that come to us. It is not a perfect release, but it is pretty damned good, and i hope to hear more from these people in the future.

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