Longtime local punks The Cheats are at it again with Life's Short, 16 tracks of raging retro-punk madness. More people have been in and out of this band than seems possible, but here, thanks in part to Eric Klinger's heavy-duty production, the current lineup sounds more rock-solid and raucous than ever.
Getting loaded, going to jail, feeling wounded, bored and stupid -- Life's Short mines familiar territory, but with an occasional twist that reflects Pittsburgh's Romero obsession: "This town is full of zombies / walking dead are all around me / mutant creeps are everywhere / I'm living a total nightmare," Todd Cheat sings on "Creep City."
"N.Y.C." is a straight-shootin' tribute to the Ramones, to the extent that (apart from the agile guitar solo) it could pass for something straight off Animal Boy. And in fact, the CD does include a couple satisfying faster-harder punked-up covers: "Hanging on the Telephone" and Cheap Trick's chestnut "Surrender."
In this particular vein, innovation lacks any special currency, and The Cheats unerringly follow early punk's blueprint. As they sing, "Nothing new, and there's nothing to do -- boredom, boredom!" But if the Ramones, Sex Pistols and Social D. are your holy trinity, and you're simply crying more, more, more, Life's Short is without doubt your next drunken destination.