January always ends up a nice little filter for those releases that dove a bit deeper and missed the net in the previous year. Sadly I’m just getting to write up this killer tape from Bloomington’s garage chargers The Cowboys. The band has had several EPs out over the past few years, culminating in an album released on Lumpy records that cherry picked some of their best tracks from the first three. The album and earlier material showed the promise of a band finding their footing and digging through some proto-punk piles to find their sound. On the band’s latest tape for hometown label Turd World, they seem to have finally found it. The fidelity is bounced up a notch and they smooth out their clangin’ into a swagger that digests the nerviness of ’70s punks like The Flys, The Quick or The Wasps with a low-slung purr that reminds me of The Growlers in a very nice way. They still have just a touch of the Billy Childish froth hanging on from their early EPs as well, and it all comes together to a rather essential, yet brief release.
Vol. 4 is packed with moments that feel less like a band with a crush on those halcyon days, than one that’s so accurately recreating the vibe they could very easily slip a few of these into lost punk and power pop comps and pass rather convincingly as long lost sneer merchants. Its just a solid sender from top to bottom. Now for the crushing blow, the tape is sold out (though apparently promised to repress very shortly) and Turd World has not gotten it up digitally as of yet. Fingers crossed on both counts as this one is casting a long shadow as one of 2016’s most overlooked. I’d settle for that tape back in circ, but if some label wants to step up to the vinyl plate, all the better. It deserves it.