WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras
It’s hard to believe the last time Tight Fight released an album was five years ago. As time has gone by, the members seem to have put the project on an indefinite hiatus. Fans are still left with a pretty incredible body of work spanning three full length albums, a few splits, EPs, and singles spanning the 2010s. It could be debated that Title Fight is one of the most influential punk rock bands to ever come out of the Philadelphia area. Even if we just talk releases within the last decade or so, Floral Green (2012) has to be in the conversation due to its influence and legacy as a defining sound within the scene. Their full-length release from 2015, Hyperview, was not only a step forward for the band both sonically and aesthetically, but also showed the members discussing new ideas and experiences, while staying true to their past hardcore roots.
Title Fight has always been a band to wear its influences on its sleeves. Drawing influences from straight edge hardcore, DIY and 90s alternative rock, Title Fight took those sounds, influences, and attitudes to their music. Fast paced, and energetic, the band toured frequently across the country and sold out shows in the area as quickly as tickets went on sale. They left a legacy to the fanbase and played a huge role within the punk scene during that time. The year 2020 formally marks the 5th anniversary to what may or may not be the legendary PA punk outfits final record, at least for the time being.
When Title Fight released Hyperview on February 3, 2015, fans were eager to get back in touch with the Punk/Post-Hardcore band. They are definitely a fan favorite in the area, especially in their hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. After releases such as Shed (2011) and Floral Green (2012), fans were excited for what the band would come out with next. Teaming up once again with one of the most influential producers/engineers in Pennsylvania, Will Yip, at legendary Studio 4 in Conshohocken, the band embarked on a new sound for themselves, and also for fans. Blending elements of post hardcore and shoegaze, what we were left with was an album heavy on reverb, noise, and all-around atmosphere. A huge departure in sound from Title Fights previous work, but incredibly experimental for the band and the punk scene alike.
The opening track “Murder Your Memory” begins with a lush environment of guitar noise and builds into a sweet and pleasant rift that evokes a sense of relaxation amidst the vocals of Jamie Rhoden. This would serve as a cool opener to get fans prepared for what would come next as track after track combine reverb-soaked guitars, groovy rhythm sections, and hushed vocals in the style of many past and present shoegaze bands, but with a twist of heavy and introspective lyrics Title Fight has made themselves known for. Songs like “Chlorine” and “Hyperview” would be the fans first taste of this new sound. It’s polished, and its huge as the guitar work of both Jamie Rhoden and Shane Moran take over the tracks, the drumming of Ben Russin sounds massive, and Ned Russin espousing his poetic lyrics of truth and reasoning in life sound as polished as ever.
“Mrahc” (pronounced as backwards Charm) is a fast song, a kind of tribute to their hardcore roots, but with the guitar flanging and shoegaze sound to them. “Your Pain is Mine Now” is somewhat of a rock ballad that blends nicely together into a transition to “Rose of Sharon,” which sounds something like a song that could have been on Floral Green (2012), but with the new Title Fight sound making it a completely new and original idea. “Trace Me onto You” combines the pacing of both the previous songs into one that starts as a very moshable song and once the exhaustion has built, breaks down into a slow head bang.
Some of the most ethereal parts of the album come on the B-side like in “Liar’s Love.” The track ends with what sounds like distant micing of a rehearsal session of pianos, high hats, and guitar chords that creates a behind the scenes of the Title Fight members in their most intimate setting, the calm before the storm if you will, but a really isolated scene of the members in their natural places within the studio. “Dizzy” is a slowed down track that keeps a mellowed pace. It slowly fades out, but then slowly comes back as guitar distortion builds up in a beautiful yet chaotic finisher track “New Vision,” which closes out the album in what could be interpreted as the band considering exploring new avenues either in their band or in life. With the context of the band’s current status, it’s an eerie prediction that still continues to leave more questions than answers.
The members of Title Fight have since moved onto other projects. Ned Russin recently released a new full length album for his current band Glitterer, Ben Russin has been busy managing other bands during their touring schedules, Jamie Rhoden recently put out an album for his side band Haze, and Shane Moran has been busy with his media company Happy House/Poison Thorn. Whether or not Title Fight will ever return in some form is yet to be seen, but in the meantime, fans should check out what the guys are up to. Glitterer is a nice solo project for Ned Russin, and he has been touring continuously since its release last year. He has opened for bands like Ceremony and more recently Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. If you caught Turnover this past December at the Theatre of the Living Arts, Shane was filling in on guitar.
It’s clear that the members want to continue creating art, and we should continue to support them in whatever endeavors they decide to pursue. After being a touring band for most of their lives dating back to 2003, Title Fight has already built its legacy, and will continue to have a legacy as one of the defining sounds of the 2010s punk scene. The members should be allowed to explore whatever creative freedoms they so choose, and fans should absolutely take that journey with them. Title Fight’s Hyperview serves as a document to what punk rock can sound like. It’s an experimental classic that stays true to their ethos as a DIY band, and it deserves to be enjoyed by all.
- Murder Your Memory
- Your Pain Is Mine Now
- Rose of Sharon
- Trace Me Onto You
- Liar’s Love
- New Vision