Album Review: Turnspit – “Desire Paths”

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Holy Crap this year has totally gotten away from me.  It’s almost half over and I feel like I haven’t done a damn thing but work, sleep, and drink.  I was supposed to review Creeper Eternity in Our Arms.  I dunno.  I think enough has been said about that album.  I tried to put pen to paper but could find no motivation.  It didn’t help that during my listening I said to my wife “Don’t these guys remind you of Alkaline Trio.”  She replied, “They remind me of Meat Loaf.”  Ooof.

I don’t know whether it’s Trump in the Whitehouse or what, but it’s just hard to get motivated to do anything.  And nothing is moving me from my inertia.  Finally a beacon of hope.  Midwest Punk Fest in my home town of Bloomington IL.  While going through some of the bands, I stumbled upon Turnspit.  I know Turnspit because they are on Dodgeball and Mike Felumlee of Smoking Popes (Alkaline Trio, Bigger Empty, etc.) is associated with that outfit.  I’ve been meaning to give this a listen and now I’ve got a good reason!  So I start my first review of the year with a band that is playing Midwest Punk Fest and also happens to have a fairly new record, Desire Paths.

Turnspit is a four piece out of Chicago.  They play catchy pop punk alternating between female (Gillian McGhee) and male (Jason Swearingen) vocals.  Dan Tinkler (Drums) and Bradley Davis (Bass) provide the rhythm.  The first thing that will catch your attention as you spin Desire Paths is Gillian McGhee’s powerful voice.  You have to put it up there with the best and I just can’t pin it down who she reminds me of.  Is it Karen O?  Natalie Merchant?  Patti Smith? Erica Freas (RVIVR)?  I’m torn, but safe to say she’s in good company.

Let’s get to the record.  The opener Irish Name puts Gillian’s powerful wail on full display.  She’s hitting some notes here and without losing any musicality.  Should pique most folks interest.  It also has that jump you’d expect from Chicago punk.  That jump probably resulted from the production at Atlas Studios, a Chicago institution.  I’m not sure if the mighty Matt Allison was on the boards for this, but it has that bite and super clean production that he is known for.  No doubt Atlas allows the best of Turnspit to shine through on Desire PathsBreath Taking pops up next and it reminds the listener that Turnspit has two distinctly different vocalists.  This dichotomy really intrigues me because, as Gillian can be sharp and biting, Jason is gruff and low.  Walk Away makes you want to get up and dance, it hearkens back to 80s power pop, you’ll catch the Natalie Merchant vibe previously noted.  Apologies, I have so, so many features both vocalists.  The interchange really works for the song and should get you in the feels if you’ve ever had a rocky relationship.  The title track, Desire Paths, allows Jason to show his vocal chops and you can play the game of who he reminds you of here, Ryan Young, Chuck Ragan?  Skin puts forth an important message about sexual abuse and female empowerment.  I applaud Gillian for having the guts to open up about these issues.  Home is run no more shows Turnspit knows how to bring the punk.  Given gives Jason a chance to open his heart in a jumpy acoustic number.  I don’t need to describe every song on the record!  If you are still reading, go to Dodgeball Records website and give it a listen!

The songs on Desire Paths come strong from beginning to end.  It’s eminently listenable and each track has its own identity.  Turnspit does a great job of keeping to the genre without becoming formulaic.  Desire Paths currently holds a spot in my top 10 of 2018.  Give it a spin.

4/5 Stars



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