HIGH ABOVE Steiner Street.
If the limited-edition Wilco vinyl isn't enough to get you to Record Store Day this weekend, on April 21, how about some local releases? One of them, the sophomore Whitcomb disc, I need a little more space for, and will tackle next week, but Steiner Street's debut disc, the eight-song Time & Temperature, is just the right morsel for you to consume along with the Afrika Bambaataa/MC5 and the Pussy Galore "Feel Good About Your Body" seven-inches you'll no doubt be lining up for.
It is what you think it is if you follow at all the local pop-punk, all-ages cadre. The songs are high-energy, often not very long, and built upon this generation's version of angst (which often involves "ahh-ahh" and "whooah-ooah" backing vocals). "How can you be stuck in drama since we finished high school," frontman Eric Cyr wonders on the opening "I Should Have Never Had a Birthday," amid lightly crashing cymbals from Mike Sajecki.
These guys stand out best when they dive into the specifics. A sense of place infuses "Hey Prew," and it's easily the best song here, both for its groundedness in "that night Hurricane Irene swallowed Two Lights" and for the chorus of voices that lead into the long play out of distortion and kinetic drums. "Run Ourselves Ragged" gets into a father-son dynamic that feels personal; "Frost" is easy to identify with: "strapped for cash, but I'm alright/I think I'll make it through the night."
There's some question of how the band moves forward without lead guitarist Alex Dulac, who leaves the band after the release show this weekend (his new project is Young Lungs), as his fills in "Fish in a Barrel" add important dynamics and his lead in "Frost" shows some interesting construction and tone, but the record won't be affected by his departure and he helps out with some nice call-and-response in that opening track, too.
Steiner Street aren't the first band to need a new guitar player, nor are they the first to mine most of this territory, but if introductions need to be made this makes for a nice calling card.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIME & TEMPERATURE |Released by Steiner Street | on Third Time Lucky Records | with Pinsky + American Verse + Background + Avely + Truth of My Youth + Go Long Kid | at the Empire, in Portland | April 19, at 5 pm (all ages) + 9 pm (21+) | steinerstreetpunk.com