Do you know the kind of album that you listen to once and go ‘meh’? And then you listen to it again and go ‘hmmm’? And then you go back to it a third time and go ‘wow!’? And the fourth time it’s like ‘holy crap!’? Well, Choke Up released just that kind of album. It’s called “Black Coffee, Bad Habits” and easily made it it to level three with occasional leaps into level four.
Choke Up is a cathartic hardcore band that plays punk songs. Or something like that. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a lot of different things wrapped into one another in seriously clever fashion and then spread out over fourteen songs. One thing all of the songs have in common is its sense of urgency with frenzied riffs, angsty vocals that are often layered on top of one another before turning into gang vocals and drums so dynamic they could be mistaken for a stampede.
There is something to be said for every single song on here. Opening track “Wildflower” starts off sweet enough before turning into something a lot wilder. Songs like “Crosses” and “Woke Up Drunk” are short punk blasts, but the band will just as well go acoustic on your asses with “Polka Dot” and “Dry Out”. And then there’s songs like “Don’t Wake Up”… it has all the exuberance of a band like Pup but – and maybe it’s just me – there’s a part in it that made me think of Vampire Weekend. Or the moment where they whip out gang vocals in “Thicket And Vine”? Nice!
Choke Up pulls you in a lot of different directions on “Black Coffee, Bad Habits” and while I’m not sure about their bad habits, I could see them heading for the studio all jacked up on caffeine and ready to record this bad boy.