From the outskirts of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Tie Goes to the Runner is here to rock fans new and old with their latest release, TGTTR: A Self Titled Collection of Songs.
Formed by guitarists, CJ Blake (also lead vocals) and Keith Michel in 2012, indie-rock band Tie Goes to the Runner “has [toured] and [played] shows from fully-packed big stage venues to grimy basements filled with smelly tattooed punks all across the east coast.” In 2014, Matt Scull was added as a guitarist, but soon switched to bass in 2015. In the same year, DJ Passarelli became the band’s official drummer, and Nico Musitano joined up as a permanent keyboardist/guitarist/and backing vocalist in early 2018 after being a touring member with the band for nearly two years.
Tie Goes to the Runner’s previous releases with various versions of the lineup include An American Pastime, which was the band’s first full-length release recorded with Pat Noon at Eight Sixteen Studios in 2015, and Entanglement in 2016 recorded at The Lumberyard by Nik Bruzzese. TGTTR – A Self Titled Collection Of Songs was also recorded by Nik Bruzzese with the addition of Dom Maggi and Ace Enders at The Lumberyard.
Overall, I am beyond impressed by Tie Goes to the Runner’s self-titled collection. In fact (and I don’t say this lightly), they have become one of my new favorite bands just from listening to their music for this review. Their sound reminds me of a lot of other groups that I love—From Indian Lakes, Boston Manor, Glass Lungs—but at the same time, they remain utterly unique. I listen to a lot of music, so it takes a lot for a band to really stand out in a way that makes me add them to my daily listening. If you try out just a few artists from reading my reviews, you won’t regret it if Tie Goes to the Runner is among them.
[Directed by Kurt Fowles]
“Pulp” is the first track of the self-titled album. With dreamy, soft guitar strokes and light vocals that melt into bright verses, “Pulp” proves to be a perfect introduction to the album, especially to attract fans of bands like From Indian Lakes and Copeland. The levels of each part of the track are flawless, allowing each instrument to speak for itself. I particularly appreciate this in the bass, as we get to hear its unique vintage-tawng tone. Although there seems to be no stand-out part in “Pulp,” this works well for the genre and the song in particular, as it’s easy to enjoy something different with every listen.
[Directed by Austin Barbetto]
“Companion” has a much different feel from “Pulp,” but its fast-paced rock vibes are no less enjoyable. Twinkling guitar lines and aggressive cymbal hits lead into smooth vocals: “I’m equally afraid of commitment as I am of the real chance that I’ll end up alone / I’m so sick of never taking chances / Reclusive hopeless romantic; / That’s me. I need to learn to say hello / Everybody needs somebody.” Like many of Tie Goes to the Runner’s other tracks, “Companion” presents an honest outlook on life through well-worded lyrics. The instrumentals are nothing to scoff over, either: Every part is different, but interlocked in a way that is truly impressive. Although it is extremely difficult to pick a favorite song from such a great album, “Companion” is definitely up there in my book.
[Directed by Kurt Fowles]
“Antlers” is one of the smoothest tracks I have ever listened to. Although vocals don’t come in until the one minute-mark, it’s far from boring—in fact, the quiet moment to appreciate the instrumentals gives the track a sense of peace that is perfect in its place at the almost-midway point of the album. The juxtaposition between the peace in the instrumentals and the turmoil of the lyrics creates a wonderful dissonance in the piece: “And I apologize for my apologies / Cause I’m not sorry for what we did / So don’t feel sorry for me / I know you know / That you know I know / Where we stand / And we both know we’re gonna do it again.” Despite the emotions attached to the words, they create a perfectly-worded, honest conversation that will likely be relatable for many listeners.
[Directed by Mitch Marsico, Courtney Kehr, and Steve Reynolds]
“Wolf” addresses the ugly bits of humanity in all of us: “Try to stay calm and controlled / But we’re all wolves in sheep’s clothes /A dangerous mixture of insecure / And inflated egos.” Although we all have these parts of us, the lyrics admit that it is possible to change if we work for it: “I am only human / I know that I’m my worst enemy / I know that I need work on it.” Despite the song’s short running time (2:52), it manages to pack in lessons that we all need to learn at some point.
The instrumentals of “Wolf” are very saturated as well. Although on the softer side, they do a wonderful job of supporting a solid base for the vocals. The keyboard tones really stand out in this track, allowing for a completely different feel from many of the more guitar-saturated songs on the album. The bassline also gets its moment to shine, giving “Wolf” a feeling of balance between the highs of the vocals and lows of the bass.
[Directed by Aaron Palmer]
“Mitigation” begins with an eeriness not found in the other tracks. The dark instrumentals bring a new side to the album, complete with string scratches and dragging drum beats to accompany the shadowy keyboard lines. The vocals are heavier, too, with scratchy screams at the release of the track’s building tension. Unlike many of the album’s other songs, “Mitigation’s” lyrics match its instrumentals’ caliginous tone: “You’re torn between / whether or not you are a good person / who just happens to / make bad mistakes / Or are you a bad person who’s painting / a facade that you’re good / when we both know that you’ll never be….” The accompanying music video suits the tone as well, making the complete experience my favorite of the collection.
“Northbound” creates an ambient aesthetic that flows well after the intensity of “Mitigation.” Although it is only an interlude with a 1:32 running time, it serves its purpose as a whoosh of breath to cleanse the palate for the next track. I love it how it is, but it would be interesting to see its musical themes expanded upon in a future track.
“Thru” comes with the inspiration of preparations for a trip on the Appalachian Trail. “While the band was writing and recording TGTTR: A Self Titled Collection of Songs…CJ and Keith were preparing to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Thru-hiking [involves hiking] an established end-to-end long-distance trail with continuous footsteps, completing it within one calendar year. The 2,200 mile trail starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Katahdin in Maine. The band released the album and played their [pre-hiatus] show on February 23,2019, and CJ and Keith began the thru hike in Georgia about three days after that.” To celebrate the end of their hike, “the final video for…’Thru’ will be released on August 1st, right before they come back home.”
Besides its incredible origins, “Thru” is an incredible ending to Tie Goes to the Runner’s self-titled collection. The instrumentals are fun and crunchy, but still utilize the spaces between notes to create a sense of movement within every measure. The vocals are pushed more into the forefront in this track, but there are still an abundance of little details within each instrumental part that the song would still be interesting without lyrics. With the lyrics, a whole other level of depth is added to the song. Phrased beautifully, the words describe elements of CJ and Keith’s coming journey: “I don’t love all that I see / A world filled with hate / With dogs who have acquired a taste for only other dogs to eat /I think I’ll make like a leaf / And go live in the trees / At walking speeds I’ll be running from society / Look at me now.” While the lyrics discuss the serious problems of today’s world, they have a sense of humor about them that makes the track palatable at any level of analysis.
Once CJ and Keith return from the Appalachian Trail, Tie Goes to the Runner “plans to reunite and tour to further promote the new release. August will be the first time” the group plays together since their February release show, but they “are extremely excited to get back to playing.” While plans are not yet set in stone, fans should rest assured that Tie Goes to the Runner “will immediately get working on booking shows and tours” once the band is fully reunited.
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***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post.***