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Rockin’ Ska by Impulse Control Promises to Whet the Appetite

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Calling Ashland their home, Impulse Control had a strong debut album in 2016 entitled Welcome to the Fold, which was straightforward guitar rock/power pop based. Now their upcoming release, Thanks for Oversharing, which will have all of its proceeds going toward a fire relief fundraiser, might prove to be their greatest departure yet from their usual sound. Lead single, “Hang ‘em High!,” is one of their most interesting tunes musically, lyric-wise, and in genre sampling too, with its ska and punk inclusions.

“Hang ‘em High!” has a soft and sad horn intro which then adds guitar, giving the song an almost Spanish funeral essence. This intro then erupts into a full-blown ska jam, and begins to tell the story of the possible perils one may run into when practicing the art of “wooing women.” One of my favorite lyrics in this song is “that’s the story our health teacher told, don’t have sex until you get old, or else you might end up murdered. Class dismissed by the teacher, beeline straight for the football bleachers to see if any of it was true.” Other lyrics like “spun them slowly” are repeated more than twice and almost slurred and slightly off key by the third time, giving off a deliriously drunk feel. The song incorporates horrified exclamations of anguish as a sound effect that almost sounds like metal grating on rusty metal. I know, it doesn’t sound too appetizing, right? Not to worry: remember “Date Rape” by ska great Sublime? That got to be a cult classic with lots of radio play; this single has that kind of potential as well just by its creativity alone.

By comparison, 2016’s Welcome to the Foldis more guitar rock focused. Standout tracks include the title track, “Here I Stand,” “Cracks in Pavement,” (where the band shows off the great speeds they are capable of playing at), and “You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me,” which reminds me somewhat of Weezer’s “Undone – (The Sweater Song)” complete with party mingling sounds at the interlude.

During the quarantine months earlier this year when the pandemic broke out, Impulse Control had to get creative to cope with the limitations enforced on everyone at the time. The results ended up being both an online album on Soundcloud they put together called Social Distancingand some fun “Corona” cover songs, acoustic versions of work from some of the flashiest, most contemporary artists such as Lizzo, Kesha, and Frank Ocean. Their description for this project included posts like “Week Two of the quarantine lifestyle! This week’s challenge is to make an acoustic cover of a different song every day.”

With tracks like “I’m Starting to Smell” and “Make It Out Alive,” Impulse Control paints a picture on Social Distancing of their experience living in crisis mode during the pandemic, but the no-holds-barred political opinion piece, “Dear Mr. President” is perhaps the most memorable one, emphasizing frontman Tim Duryea’s state of being “fed up” with the political climate in the last four years.

The other release the band has had in the last few years is a live album called Alive and Trying (2018). Some of the songs are typical rock and kind of forgettable, such as “My Kind of Girl,” but the best cuts on this one really speak out about paying homage to the beautiful cities and towns I know and love (“The Oregon Song”) and realizing the slim likelihood of really “making it” in the music business (“Bargain Bin Gold”). “Young Bullfighter” is a great opener to this album, starting out slow and purposeful just like an introductory song should, and then flailing away into driving fast paced rebel rock with dramatic flair. It remains to be seen (or heard in this case) if the entire new album will be saturated with the ska sound the lead single has, or if it will stay aligned with the more general guitar rock/ power pop feel of its predecessors.

Impulse Control releases their new single, “Hang ‘em High!”on all streaming platforms Oct. 30.     

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