I was introduced to the Fill Ins at the perfect time...early 2017. They had a healthy back catalog to delve into and another in the works. 5th Time’s the Charm was in heavy rotation at my place for months. When Alex Stiff informed me of a new one in the works, I remained sure that there was no way 2015’s high-octane rock n’ roll chef d'oeuvre could be topped. When I listened to Hipster Killers (another encomium worthy of it’s own praise), then 5th Time, it seems so obvious that Charlotte NC’s best had peaked. However, I love the Fill Ins, have since the first time that I heard them, and they’re really cool guys. So when Alex sent me a copy of The Time Is Now, I kept this opinion to myself and listened intently.
Holy shit. Oh no, they didn’t.
“Sinner’s Choice” was probably the best possible record opener in the known universe (still don’t think it gets enough love). It starts with Adam Patterson’s Ramones-esque four-count, followed by that delicious, fetching four-chord sound. The second guitar dives in, pick screeching down the neck and I decided at that second that I would never seal a band’s fate again. It’s the perfect introduction for the assault that’s about to happen to you for the next twenty-something minutes.
The Time is Now is a riff ruffian. Straight ahead, adrenaline-inciting madness like “Lock and Load”, “Hate” and “It’s a Blast” show no signs of the Fill Ins slowing down, while Bluesy Classic-AOR-tinged Rawk tracks like “Feelin’ Good” make you wonder...Does the world make any sense if The Fill Ins aren’t rock stars?
The record is like Ramones meets classic-era Black Flag, but with a great lead guitarist. Mikey’s on point, and I do mean always. Alex has a very Damaged-era Rollins roar, but somewhere in there is some old school, guileless Hard Rock. And just how perfect is a line like “Don’t you stay in just one place/A sonic blast right through your face.”
“Saturday Night” and “Hit the Gas” had been released last year, but make sense on The Time is Now. They belong right here where they are.
These guys have their shit together. Although Alex remains the sole original member, I believe that this band would not be the same without each and every one of these guys. They each bring their own part and parcel and the finished product is nothing short of perfection. Oh, Fill Ins. Please don’t ever change. Please don’t ever stop rocking.
The Fill Ins don’t want to educate you. They don’t want to convert you to their political ideas. The Fill Ins don’t want to tell you that she loves you. No, no, no. The Fill Ins want to fucking rock. They want to rock until you pass out on the couch and then draw on your face with a permanent marker. Then, rock some more.
You need this album. ---Robby