I’m a sucker for guttural pop punk. I don’t want to hear a lyric sang, I want to hear it shredded by whiskey abused vocal chords. I want to feel every syllable reverberate through every emotional bone I’ve born from memory and experience. I don’t want music to speak to me, I want to feel its hot breath as it screams in my face.
Dead Bars is like a friend with four too many shots rumbling in his belly. He’s loose with his tongue, too loud for wherever he is, and without emotional barriers. One second he’s slapping you on the back, telling you why “you’re like the best friend ever, maaan.” The next he’s solemn, speaking secrets about his ex and cutting through his own perception of himself into the meat and bone of who he is. Dead Bars has that kind of drunken honesty in their DNA, offering an experience as real and exciting as a night of intoxicating revelry and self-discovery.
“Funhouse Monday” is packed with melody. The guitar lick that opens it offers a simple reminder that punk rock doesn’t survive on vocal lines and power chords alone while tying the song together with a musical idea. Its a rocking number that brings to mind overweight bearded guys closing their eyes and pounding a single closed fists against their heart, singing along with inebriated gusto. You can practically smell this song.
“Had a party at my house, I told you about it,” bellows vocalist Maiello in the aptly titled “Party At My House.” The song is simultaneously a party song and a song of lost love, the latter of which I don’t usually go for, but the pining feels earnest and the simple refrain is as infectious as they come. The next track, “Love Sick,” offers a continuation of the theme, but with a different atmosphere all together. Where “Party At My House” is youthful and exuberant, sounding like a frazzled MySpace post from 2006 authored by a kid who’s adolescence is marred by perpetual relationship problems, “Love Sick” is who that kid grows up to be. Sad, lonely, but never anything but passionate. Its the sound of a kick to a stomach that’s been kicked before and knows it’ll be kicked again.
Dead Bars end their EP with the rousing “Los Marineros.” Its hook, “Los Marineros, Los Marineros, you got a homerun while I was going to the bathroom,” precedes a track filled with specific and detailed imagery. I love slice-of-life songs. There’s something powerful about a good set of words that can take you into someone else’s world, even just for a moment. In the grand scheme of things, missing a homerun for a piss is a minor event, but its message translates past the concrete and begs the question: “What have you missed, pissing away your time?”
There’s an immediacy to Dead Bars’ EP that I find really appealing. The songs are fast and catchy, and firmly rooted in the sound No Idea Records has codified as their own. But there’s a lot of bands playing pop punk, and not a lot of them doing it as well as Dead Bars. There’s personality here, aided and abetted by a sense of reckless endangerment and honest to fucking goodness humanity. After the last chord is struck, the best thing I can say about Dead Bars is that they never feel any less than real.