Let’s start simple with Tampa rock band The Tim Version. Their name is probably a Replacements nod (frustratingly so when you’re a teenager with poor researching skills trying to Soulseek search for their albums and getting results of nothing but “Can’t Hardly Wait (Tim version)” from the Mats bootleg thing All For Nothing/Nothing For All, which obviously you already have). Names of previous albums include Prohibition Starts Tomorrow, and Still Have the Nerve to Call Ourselves a Band–aptly capturing their ramshackle sound, putting them in the sweaty, neurotic (compliments) company of fellow Floridians Grabass Charlestons and Radon. Then there’s this 10″ record sitting in the middle of their discography called Floribraska. It’s four acoustic originals and a Gram Parsons and Motorhead cover, recorded drunkenly to 4-track with a 3rd-generation family banjo. It’s complete with an insert that kindly relays a wealth of roots music that influenced the recording that “you can find for free at any good college or public library.” In their next rock record, The Decline of the Southern Gentleman, those country and folk influences get more attention, but they’re not treated like foreign elements, they’re conscripted into gnarly fighting music. In The Tim Version all that shit is native and barbed. If Radon spoke to the anxiety of a deadly, odorless gas seeping up into your home from the swamp it’s built on, then maybe The Tim Version speaks to what happens when you wake up everyday having not died in your sleep–the anxiety of having to go work again. Now we’re at a record called Ordinary Life, their first record in six years. It’s got two songs well over six minutes whereas before there’d been nothing that ever reached five. Have things gotten complicated for the band in the interval or has denial or beer or repetition or whatever constitutes a good life choice made it all simpler than ever?
Let’s stay simple with Ordinary Life–if you like Grabass’s last record, (former A.D.D. label-mates) Pretty Boy Thorson’s last record, if you like Two Cow Garage, if you like fishing, you’re going to love this album. I like all those things, at least I like to think that I would like fishing if I tried it as an adult, so I call this Essential Listening.
Now let’s say a little about what’s extraordinary about this record. The first three tracks bluster by in Southern Gentlemanly fashion. Sweating-your-beard-off rock in the tradition. Then there’s the Floribraska of the album, the acoustic and porch-eous “Holidays and Birfdays,” an Uncle Tupelo-like howler that puts a spell over everything to come. The two masterpieces of the album follow. “Funny Movies” soars musically while it lyrically tunnels into *the heart of ordinary life.* “Some people think life is just a joke / I kinda hope they’re right / because I like watching funny movies / I like to laugh until I cry,” are lyrics I’m pretty certain about, leading into and beginning the chorus, and I believe the chorus continues: “I hate to think that things will stay fucked until I die / but I do / and I’d rather not have to.” I dig that. I dig also the Replacements-like pleading chorale that closes the final minute of the song: I-I-I’d rather not!!! The next great song, one of the six-plus-minute ones, is “The Future of Humanity is Dogs.” It gets badass on a non-Replacements level. It’s a Tom Petty song with a slow, venomous build that doesn’t crescendo until halfway through with a guitar solo that I’m guessing has a lot to do with Motorhead. I’m comparing them too much to other bands, but I hope to make it clear that what’s phenomenal about the album is The Tim Version’s ruthless use of all this stuff.
I feel like writing more would be a spoiler. This is an album worth experiencing. The other six-minute song, “Die in Yer Sleep,” is also a total killer. The album has keys, pedal steel, banjo, loud electric guitars solos–everything we love about the music we talk about, just in a different amalgamation. Let’s forget about the question I asked in the beginning of the review and just listen to this on repeat until the new Radon record comes out. I’m so happy to have a Tim Version record after six years.