FITNESS “Fitness” C15 (Wiener Records)

I’ve had two distinct reactions to this self-titled EP by Fitness. Before I break it down, I should clarify – I’m into it. Yeah, I like it, a grungy guitar-led throwback to the late 1980s and early 1990s when everybody could get away with looking like Jimmi Simpson on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (seriously, the one guy in the band looks like him). This style’s not usually my bag anymore – it was in high school, but that was ages ago. I’m old.

My initial reaction wasn’t, “Yeah, I’m into it.” It was, “Holy crap, what is this awesome sound?” Because the double-guitar strangulation of “SSRI” leads off the tape, easily recalling a psychic mashup of Drive Like Jehu and early Dinosaur Jr. I was thrilled, like, I haven’t heard American hardcore bordering on that type of accessibility in who knows how long. Everybody: “SSRI” is a super awesome song. Listen to it.

But then “YEAH, this is cool!” becomes “YEA…oh, uh, yeah – that sounds like Descendents and Dead Milkmen doing something together. That’s still OK, I guess.” That’s “Good Company.” But then “Julie” sounds like Weezer. WTF, you guys.

It’s not bad, it’s just that when there’s so much promise in a leadoff track like “SSRI,” it’s disappointing when it’s not followed up in the same way. That’s my second reaction.

Then I blew through side B, and more bile is expelled from the infernal depths on “NES” (thank you!) although it’s still a bit Weezerish for my liking. “Fitness” is back in Drive Like Jehu land. “Moon” is super Weezery. Tape, end.

Maybe I’m just being too picky, because Fitness the tape is fine for the most part. Fitness (the band) seems to be much more interested in jamming middle fingers in faces everywhere, so maybe they perform around their native Chicago with much more reckless abandon on stage than Weezer ever would. I sure hope so. They sound like a bunch of guys who are ready to melt faces if it ever totally comes together. This is a promising start.

--Ryan Masteller