Something is working when you listen to a song and can’t decide if it is cringey and insufferable or the best thing you’ve heard all year. LA’s Cheekface (latest nominee for worst band name) come fast and furious with mathy, new wave hooks, nonsensical oh-so-meta lyrics and power punk hooks you just. cannot. ignore.
This fall, the kids at my college radio station, U92 at West Virginia University, were heralding Cheekface as one of their favorites of the year. It was the first time I had heard of the band. I wanted to hate them, but I kind of love them.
No amount of cheese can hide the hooks
Perhaps 2022’s surprise of the year, Too Much to Ask, the third album by the band Cheekface, barrels out of the gates with 1 minute and 25 seconds of total dork fury on “When Life Hands You Problems.” Your car is now a party palace.
If you missed it, Greg Katz lovably laconic stoner lyrics include the word “problemade.”
Life hands you problems, make problemade.
Life hands you wages, minimum wage;
The popcorn ceiling, the great divide.
If you think this sucks would you keep it to yourself?
You must be thinking of something else.
Where have you heard the Cheekface sound before? I have answers
For a few moments, enjoy the cover art of Too Much to Ask. My personal nominee for 2022’s Best Cover Art, the album’s cute little terrier (Shih Tzu?) was drawn by band member Amanda Tannen. Not only is the picture endearing, I think it inadvertently points to some of the band’s musical lineage.
The drawing and free-hand lettering on Too Much to Ask and 2019’s Therapy Island remind me of the art common to Seattle’s BOAT. Going further back, you can start a through-line with Seattle indie forefathers The Young Fresh Fellows, who influenced BOAT and They Might Be Giants, essentially birthing Weezer. And that brings us to Cheekface.
“I Feel So Weird” is a more angular version of the YFF’s “Amy Grant.” Another difference? There is simply no way to bury Katz earworm harmony inside “Weird.” He’s an over-achiever, and out-Weezer’s even the most euphoric Weezer hooks on the resolve of “weeee-ird.”
The band Cheekface is odd and amazing
I could talk myself into getting excited about a Cheekface show. Unfortunately 2023 dates started in San Diego, Las Vegas and Reno in January…jump Salt Lake City…and conclude in Denver in April. So close–this could still happen!
Until then, buy the eccentric, insanely catchy album Too Much to Ask, full of deliberate non sequiturs and little linear sense. Or get a Cheekface T or mini basketball hoop!
I’m holding out hope for a Salt Lake Show. Cheekface brings all of the joy, which we value too little in 2022.