Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Album Review: Mea Culpa by Dead End Drive-In

Being from Canada seems to be the mark of being a great band. That great country is a conveyor belt for my new favourite punk band. Whenever I work my way through the punk section on Bandcamp discovery, you can always guarantee at least one of the bands that catch my attention will be from Canada. My latest find is Dead End Drive-In. This five piece comes from Vancouver and just released a brand new album named Mea Culpa.

Mea Culpa begins with the song The Music I Can't Hear. After an elongated intro that has me thinking of bands such as Iron Chic or Elway, things slow down to allow a dramatic and theatrical vocal that really grabs your attention. It gives Dead End Drive-In this massive sound that feels like it would work equally well in a tiny basement or a big arena. As the song progresses the tempo increases and so does the intensity. The track is about avoiding facing the truth and feeling sorry for yourself. Up next is Apathy Kills Again which is about wanting things to change but not being willing to do it yourself. On this song Dead End Drive-In really showcase want a great group of musicians they are, in particular there is a fantastic guitar solo midway through the song. The band seem to be experts in the extended introduction to a song that has you eagerly anticipating the vocals beginning. The same can be said about the third song, Echo Chamber. It's full on an infectious energy that has you ready to explode when the vocals come in. This feels like much more of a punk rock banger with its punchy delivery and big sing-along moments. Echo Chamber is about realising that it is okay to stick to your guns in an argument even if it means you could potentially be outcast.

Saturated Sponge is about how our minds are so full of things forced upon us by the media that it's hard to have your own original thoughts. It sounds as if Dead End Drive-In feel very strongly about this subject as there is a lot more venom in the vocals on this track. The short and simple chorus of "but this sponge is saturated, this sponge is saturated" is a fantastic section to shout along to at the top of your voice. The fifth song Floodgate gets started with some lovely big "whoa-ohs" which will instantly pull a listener in. We all love a "whoa-oh." I loved the build during the second half of the track, starting off quite quietly before gradually picking up tempo, volume and intensity that leads us to more "whoa-ohs" that book end the song perfectly. Floodgate is about getting in to an argument with someone but neither of you really winning. I really liked this as a subject for a song, it's very thoughtful and not one that you ever find in punk rock music.

Track six is titled A Stranger Kind. This song is about taking a chance on meeting strangers and having the greatest time. A Stranger Kind starts out with an almost country music feel to it before it gradually shifts into a fast paced punk rock jam. The song really hooks you in as its pace increases and by its end you'll find yourself breathless after screaming along with the song. The brilliantly named Dominant Male Monkey Motherfucker is up next. It's the shortest of all the songs on Mea Culpa at two minutes and fifty-four seconds long. I should have probably mentioned that the majority of the tracks on the album are a little on the long side of what I'm used to listening to, most are over four minutes long – but at no point do any feel like they're dragging. I'm sure you might have guessed from the song's title that it is about the ridiculous nature of the "alpha male" and how they often have a pack of idiots who blindly follow them.

Up next is Tomorrow's Idiot which is more of a slow plodding song. I really enjoyed the way the song is written, there's a simple song structure and melody that will have you singing along pretty quickly. Particularly to the chorus which is so catchy and easy to remember – "today you're just tomorrow's idiot (x3), today your head's just stuck in the clouds". The song is about having a really strong and passionate opinion about a topic but going the wrong way about expressing it to people and ultimately coming across as a fool. The penultimate song is Bus. Bus feels more like an alternative rock song with some pretty angst filled vocals that give it a punk edge. It's a mid-tempo number with some more incredible musicianship including a guitar solo that finishes the track in some style. Bus is about bumping into someone from your past and feeling embarrassed about where you are in your life compared to them. The tenth and final track on Mea Culpa is named Chameleon. When I saw that this song was almost six minutes in length I had a feeling that this would be a big epic track. The track is played at a higher tempo than I was initially expecting, this is good as it helps the song fly by. I think if the song was a slower song I would definitely get bored before the end. The higher tempo helps inject a great amount of energy and keeps you interested throughout.

I really enjoyed this effort from Dead End Drive-In. It's not a punk album in the traditional sense but captures the punk rock spirit tremendously. The songs are extremely well played and the lyrical content is superb. I love finding bands like this that I've never heard of and being blown away by just how good they are. What a great find, a great album and a great band.

Stream and download Mea Culpa here:

Like Dead End Drive-In here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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