Having never encountered either Flat Tires or The Asound (which I assume is like the sound, but opposite), I reveled in the chance to check out this Flat Tires vs. The Asound split 7” single on Tsuguri Records, and all the more so once I saw the Jeff Clayton (The Antiseen) cover art, which has Sasquatch fighting a giant eagle on it. If there’s a more perfect metaphor for the current state of affairs in our nation, folks, I don’t know what it is.
Both bands call North Carolina home, Flat Tires in Hickory and The Asound in Connelly’s Springs, so they have that in common. The Asound have a more straightforward riff rock approach and are the younger of the two bands, having formed in 2009, whereas Flat Tires, for all four and a half minutes (two songs) of material they present here, affect a well-established aesthetic combining outlaw country and hardcore punkabilly that’s quick, to the point, and on Flat Tires vs. The Asound, really, really misogynist. Take that, ladies.
Flat Tires opens with “G D Woman,” on which vocalist Clint Harrison, sounding like a combination Hank III, Unknown Hinson and drunken uncle, threatens in the direction of some female, “Get out of my face or I’ll have to punch you in your face,” which I found neither charming nor humorous. The band behind Harrison (Bryon Smallwood on guitar, Jeremy Godfrey on drums and Scott Cline on bass) rocks furious and fast in a heavy honky tonk ZZ Top kind of way on “Crybaby,” which is topped with more lyrical ladybashing, the chorus being, “Cry baby, cry baby, whine, whine, whine.” Uh huh. Okay.
Now, I realize that in all likelihood, neither Harrison nor anyone else in Flat Tires takes the lyrics seriously, and maybe it’s the Northeastern elitist liberal douchebag in me, but even if it’s a joke, that shit’s just not funny. I know a lot of people will disagree with that, and for them, Flat Tires’ portion of this split will be a rocking good time. Fine. That’s not about to make me see it as anything other than easy, done, and lame. To Flat Tires’ credit, I checked out their MySpace page and not all their material is about hating women, and some of their songs are killer in a “let’s get drunk and party to this” kind of way. Just not the ones on Flat Tires vs. The Asound. Hey buddy, what’d a vagina ever do to you?
With almost a full two minutes more time on their side, The Asound proved to be much more my speed. They open with “Joan,” a fuzzy, slower-paced, demo sounding track that, although it’s about a prostitute, is more narrative and less hateful. Michael Crump’s snare is bright and the recording sounds like the overhead mics were probably placed a little too far from his cymbals, but with the fuzz on Chad Wyrick’s guitar and Jon Cox’s bass, it’s hardly a problem if you know what you’re getting into. You can feel in listening to both “Joan” and the follow-up cut, “Snow White,” that The Asound is a new band.
From the opening of “Snow White,” I really thought it was going to be a Misfits cover. The track is faster and shorter than “Joan,” but Wyrick keeps pretty much the same approach to his vocals and the thickness is still there in the guitars and bass, so there’s still a stoner feel to it. Honestly, if the band decided to go in either direction, either the mid-paced crash of “Joan” or the speedier “Snow White,” they’d still have a pretty good chance of coming out of it with something individual. On these recordings, they’re still figuring out where they want to be, but you can hear there’s potential there.
Flat Tires vs. The Asound is a short release, under 12 minutes, and were I not such a proponent of physical product and in particular of the artwork here, I would say I’m not sure if it accomplishes an effective sonic sampling that a visit to either band’s MySpace couldn’t. That said, if I was at a show Flat Tires or The Asound were playing, I’d almost certainly be walking out with a copy of their split, so there’s that function as well. And though of the two bands I feel much more likely to continue to follow The Asound after listening to these songs, with the recognition that tastes and prejudices vary, I’ll still recommend this 7” to curious parties.Connelly's Springs, Flat Tires, Hickory, North Carolina, The Asound, Tsuguri Records