Album #201: Tsunami Bomb – The Ultimate Escape

  • Released: 2002
  • Origin: Petaluma, California, USA
  • Label: King Fu
  • Best Track: Take the Reins

Whenever I pluck an obscure album out from the past, I normally say a bit about what’s made me choose it. I’m not entirely sure why I’m listening to the 2002 debut from pop-punk band Tsunami Bomb, though. The band just explicably popped into my head the other day for the first time in years.

Tsunami Bomb remind me of the short-lived UK digital TV channel P-Rock TV. I came back from my first term at university at Christmas 2002 to find that there was a new music channel specifically playing modern punk, ska and hardcore from labels like Epitaph, Fat Wreck, Kung Fu and all sorts of others I thought were the dog’s bollocks at the time. It may go a long way towards explaining why I dropped out of uni a month later!

Tsunami Bomb’s ‘Take the Reins’ was on heavy rotation on the channel at the time, and was in hindsight one of the better songs it played. It sounded a little more raw and edgy than a lot of the pop-punk around it, with its relatable lyrics dealing with the excitement of fleeing the nest only to accept the crushing reality that you’re now facing a lifetime of mundane employment.

The Ultimate Escape was an album constantly on my list of CDs to buy around this time, but I never did. With the wonders of today’s digital music subscription packages, I can at last listen to it.

I went into this expecting to hear no tracks I liked as much as ‘Take the Reins’, and that probably is the case, but still, it’s a very decent record that’s stood the test of time pretty well. Emily Whitehurst, who went by the stage name Agent M at the time, was a hell of a frontwomen, with her on-stage energy and vocals that effortlessly switch between caustic yells and powerfully holding notes.

Considering the genre, the songs showcase a variety of styles. Pop-punk efforts like ‘Roundabout’ and ‘In This Together’ are instantly catchy, the ballad ‘The Simple Truth’ is pulled off well, and one of the best tracks is ’20 Going On…’, which at times takes on the then en vogue screamo trend having one vocalist sing over another’s shouting. I love the harder, faster tracks too, like ‘Russian Roulette’ and the 45-second ‘Count Me Out’.

Tsunami Bomb are still going in fact, albeit without Agent M, which seems a shame as her vocals and stage presence were a big part of their draw. Last year, they released The Spine that Binds, their first album in 15 years. Agent M has since moved on to other bands called The Action Design and Survival Guide, which are perhaps more listening ideas for another time.

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