I won't lie, I wanted to check out Shrug Dealer purely because of their truly awesome name. The four piece from New York formed this year and recently released their debut self titled EP. Containing six songs in just eleven minutes, the EP promised to be packed with fantastic high tempo punk rock music. Shrug Dealer have the great name but do they have the great songs? Only one way to find out!
The EP opens with a fast melodic hardcore track named Writer's Block. The verses are delivered in a fantastic punchy way which makes energy ooze out of the song and the chorus is so wonderfully catchy you can't help but get swept away with it. The track is about the frustrations of having writer's block and trying to get through the struggle. The song is only just over a minute long but Shrug Dealer do an excellent job of fitting a lot into the song. It's no thrills quality punk rock. Up next is a song named Snowflake Wars. This track is played at a slower tempo than Writer's Block and features some great shredding guitars in a similar style to A Wilhelm Scream or Darko. The song draws you in quickly with some duelling guitar playing before the vocals begin. The song is about those horrible types of people who go out of their way to offend you and wear you down for no reason whatsoever. The vocals on the song are impossible to ignore and are extremely impressive. The third song That's $10 You Owe Me Now, Dickhead has a great introduction. At the start it has you thinking this could be some kind of melodic punk reggae track before the song quickly shifts into the fast paced hardcore song that you would expect from Shrug Dealer. The song looks at the big multinational stores in the USA that are putting the small "mom and pop" stores out of business. It basically says these big chains are not playing fair and are causing a lot of people to lose their income.
The fourth song This Song Written On A Macbook Pro is just twenty-eight seconds long. When I first read the title I guessed it might be an attack on all these modern day performers who make all of their music on a laptop. In fact it's about how throughout the world child labour is used to make many of the products we use and how we don't do enough to deal with this disgusting practice. This short song packs a big punch and really gets you thinking. The penultimate song is named The Lanes. Here we are greeted by the poppier side of Shrug Dealer's sound. It still retains the shredding guitars of the previous songs but also has a bit of a 90s pop punk influence on it that I loved. The energy at the start of the song is infectious and the line in the chorus of "I believe in myself" is simply empowering. The Lanes is about finding a strength in yourself to remain true to who you want to be despite all of the rubbish that can be thrown your way in life. The positivity coming out of the song warms my heart. The EP finishes with the song Who Is Molly? This track has one of those incredible building sections that I completely adore and is worthy of your time just for that. It feels like a final song with its big finish where the band really let loose with some wailing guitars and rawer vocals.
What a great debut EP this is. Shrug Dealer take the melodic hardcore genre and, for me at least, have given it a fresh sound that really allows them to stand out from the rest of the pack. I will be recommending this EP to many of my punk pals.
Stream and download Shrug Dealer here: https://shrugdealer.bandcamp.com/releases
Like Shrug Dealer here: https://www.facebook.com/shrugdealer/
This review was written by Colin Clark.