A sonic storm of epic proportions is raging within the nine songs that comprise Terryfirma, the brand new album from critically acclaimed songwriter Terry Ohms, and combatting it with decent headphones and an open-minded disposition is the only option that listeners have when embarking on the intrepid musical journey that it has to offer. In the center of chaotic dance rock ala “We Love You,” gritty post-punk in “Opportunity” and the abstract pop of “Mind Blow,” you will locate some of the most brash and unapologetic melodies of 2019, all of which come free of the commercial frills that have put such a profound drag on mainstream rock n’ roll lately. Terry Ohms has no time for such pedestrian nonsense, and proves as much in an album that is guaranteed to make a big impression in anyone who gives it a chance.
There’s an old school punk rock feel to “Those Eyes,” “Peaks and Valleys” and the noisy “Bring All to Front” that just wasn’t present in the majority of left-leaning rock discs I reviewed towards the end of 2018, and it’s very refreshing to see it getting a fair makeover to start off the New Year. “Opportunity” has the same strut and swagger of early Talking Heads but with a decidedly more modern bend to its melodies; in the same sense, “Mind Blow” is structured like a slowed down hardcore song, with added harmonious facets accenting its surreal vocal stylings. The production is anything but dated, but the content itself feels remarkably classic and retrospective in tone.
The most interesting thing to me about Terryfirma isn’t its thrillingly unpredictable track listing or even the blunt force that it delivers in every one of its decadent guitar salvos. It’s actually the way in which is skews chest-beating machismo and big, bad riffage with smart, relevant lyricism and a pointed production quality that has more in common with ambient pop than it does any strain of rock. On the surface, these concepts couldn’t be much further from each other aesthetically, but in the case of “Little Bit,” “Doubtin It” and “Remember How to Live,” they combine to make a perfect recipe for melodic magic. Ohms didn’t do a single thing that I expected him to do with this album, and it couldn’t have turned out much better.
Terryfirma is a surprisingly warmhearted affair that challenges modern pop music to evolve with every one of its spirited contributions to the discography of 2019. Whether he’s cutting through a thick, insular bass mix with atonal guitar solos in “Those Eyes,” meditating in a wash of white noise with “Bring All to Front” or simply basking in the glow of his own poetic grasp of reality in “Peaks and Valleys” or “Little Bit,” Terry Ohms performs at the top of his game in this record and demonstrates why he’s become the lightning rod for praise in the underground that he ultimately has. This album goes a long way to solidifying his legacy, not to mention making the early part of this year a well-soundtracked one.