I’ve never met Maggie Grabmeier, front woman of the San Francisco-based pop-punk quartet The Total Bettys, but if we ever did cross paths, I feel like we would get along quite well. Named after a lyric in the record’s first track, Connect With The Couch is about as good a debut EP as I’ve heard from a young band. Punk music’s inherent lyrical transparency is what appeals to fans of the genre even if it’s exactly what dissuades others. Grabmeier might as well have been plucking memories out of my head and singing about them. She covers everything from falling behind on episodes of Breaking Bad, eating breakfast for every meal and giving up your last cig. Dang.
The lyric writing is enhanced by the fact that Grabmeier can actually sing. There’s a lot of punk music out there in which the vocalist will hang on one note for an entire song or just give into non pitched shouting. That stuff is all well and good but it’s always nice to hear a punk singer create some kind of melodic contour. It kind of makes eating cheesy eggs 10 times a week and not buying anything at Amoeba sound slightly more glorious than the bland real life vignettes that they actually are.
Of the three tracks, I have to go with ‘Earthquake’ as the standout. A little background oohs and ahs in the chorus, a little guitar solo, lyrics about crippling anxiety and indecision. The story starts out specific but drifts through varying degrees of vagueness throughout. In the song’s introductory verse the protagonist seems to be pinballing through the universe while fighting off a quarter life crisis: “When my mom calls I tell her I’ve got lots of friends / When I hang up I just go get stoned again.” I’m no expert on the West Coast scene, but I will say that it’s refreshing to hear some indie punk coming out of The Bay Area. I’m pretty familiar with the Philly/Brooklyn/Upstate NY scenes and I’ve even heard some stuff coming out of the Southwest but it seems that The Bay belongs to rappers and producers these days. There was a time when Portland was the noise capital of the country and I would just be beating a moot point to even bring up Seattle’s grunge scene. But I did it anyway. You get the idea.