ICYMI: Tuff Bluff’s ‘Poppies’ EP Bleeds Charm Onto the Denver DIY Scene

When was the last time you felt genuine elation listening to a record? When was the last time a few chords charmed the hell out of your eardrums? In July of this year, Denver-based punks Tuff Bluff released their sophomore EP Poppies via Motorcycle Potluck Records (with the vinyl pressed through Snappy Little Numbers). After the first listen, a young punk’s heart grew three sizes in the dead of summer. As Tuff Bluff reminded listeners that “life is but a dream,” jubilation returned to the dives of Denver. We thank them for it.

Tuff Bluff Logo

Logo by Jillian Bryan. Courtesy of Tuff Bluff.

Immaculately fun hooks rush through the uplifting guitar licks and doo-wops on the title track, “Poppies.” However, the bass is the crowning jewel of this track, leading in the entire EP on a nickel-plated high note (metaphorically speaking). Where drums would usually determine the tempo, the bass takes the lead throughout the song. Nostalgia is the name of the game with this track, lead vocalist and guitarist Sara Fischer calls out, “Time’s not a-wasting, not for you and not for me.”

“RATS” leaves no room for silence, as the shortest track on the release. Small touches throughout exalt the song to new levels: guitar in witty conversation with the wandering bass and vocals whispering “rats” scratches to the beat. The track bridges the transition from the story’s start to finish, acting as a liminal, frenetic mediator.

The final track capitalizes on the band’s signature showcasing style, with one instrumental settling down for a few moments to allow another to shine. “Hey Tiff” feels the truest to the limited recorded catalog we’ve seen from Tuff Bluff. Grinding guitar riffs burrow into the brain as vocals supplement the blasphemously dope drums.

READ: Tuff Bluff Makes A Case for Experimental Punk

The three-track release runs just under six minutes. But don’t be fooled by the brisk nature — these aren’t mere ditties. Poppies is the incandescent hangover of 2022’s earlier release, Weird Science. Where the latter is steeped in charismatic garage punk, the former creates a quixotic indie daydream. Both walk in an untroubled, nomadic realm tinted by rose-colored glasses. Poppies‘ driving drums and guitar clear a path for a tenacious bass line and fuzzed-out vocals that willingly contribute to the pleasantries exchanged between the song and the listener’s ear. In the end, this EP carries listeners through human experience stealthily disguised on the backs of great tunes because, after all, life is but a dream.

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) is an ongoing series for 303 Magazine where we talk about the music you may have missed when it initially dropped. Have something you think we missed? Email inquiries for the series to [email protected]