Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps release “Insane” EP

Rock fans don’t need to be told about the deficit in mainstream talent that their favorite genre has been experiencing lately – if you turn on the radio, you’re going to notice. From one end of the rock n’ roll lexicon to the next, it often feels like some of the best artists in the game have faded into obscurity and left no real heirs to pick up where they left off – that’s where Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps come in. Don’t get me wrong, now; Tikka and his group aren’t some sort of bar band cover act trying to relive the seventies with their riffs, and their new extended play Insane proves as much. Insane sees them experimenting with the basics of rock music while openly flirting with a new era-pop sound that could have a lot potential if exploited with some electrified grooves as catalyzing weapons. Bucking mainstream interests and revisiting the foundational glories that made pop/rock so sexy to begin with, this band finds a home for themselves in the underground without having to borrow some space from any of their contemporaries – indie, mainstream or otherwise. 

The EQ on the guitar parts in “Summer Means New Love” gives the riffing a raw finish, and much like it is in “Driving Me Insane,” this is what helps to solidify the menacing vibe of the melodies without having to take anything away from the optimism of the lyrically-centric harmony up top. The mix is stacked as to produce a layered feel, and even though texture clearly isn’t as important to Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps as tonality is, there are still plenty of other aesthetically-pleasing equilibriums here to be enjoyed by the more serious audiophiles among us.

My only real complaint with Insane lies with the running time – it’s a short-running firecracker that, in my opinion, gets our engines revving only to leave us aching for more of the magic as the acoustic strings fade into the darkness at the conclusion of “Dismal Day.” “Sweet Sugar” and “Good Ol’ Stupid Me” are throttling, hook-powered numbers that could have benefited from a little material support in the tracklist, but then again, this EP was primarily designed as a teaser for what’s probably coming down the pipes a lot sooner than later from this band. 

To say that there aren’t many rock bands trying to keep things as purely fun and carefree as Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps are in Insane anymore might be too grand an understatement for me to make in this review, but even if the market were oversaturated with competition, there’s a charm here that makes every second of audio stand out in my book. Insane has a few different areas of unfiltered grit that could prove problematic for a less than erudite group of artists, but in this band’s hands, I think they’re going to put it to good use in their future writing sessions. They’ve got the volume and the creative consistency to go far, and their formula has already won them a new fan in this critic. 

Michael Rand 

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