Monday, 11 November 2019

Album Review: Uncle Dan by Uncle Dan (by Emma Prew)

Uncle Dan are a five-piece band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, playing a brand of punk rock that they call ‘Drunk Punk’. At the end of October they released a new five-track self-titled EP which caught my attention on Bandcamp.

The EP kicks off with Wasted, Too and a distinct drum roll type introduction. When the vocals come in they are are pretty gruff and rough around the edges which works well alongside the fuzzy guitars. It’s certainly not a polished sound but that is fine by my. I have to say, I was not expecting the trumpet that comes into play about halfway through the song and lead into a chunky bass line before the vocalist screams ‘I just wanna go back’ over and over again. Wasted, Too is a nostalgic and reflective song and a fine opening to the record. The macabre titled My BFF Death is up next. Despite beginning gently and slowly, you can tell that Uncle Dan are about to explode with this song. When the song does kick off properly, it’s fast paced and ferocious as the band sing ‘I wanna burn, wanna burn, Wanna melt into a puddle, You can turn me to stone, And smash me into rubble’. With lyrics about wanting to die and death being ‘a friend of mine’, it’s certainly not the most optimistic of songs but it does seem like it’s pretty cathartic for the band to sing and play.

I loved the opening of third track, Parking Lot Seagulls. Gang vocals accompanied by drums is definitely a great way to grab the attention of your listener. If I didn’t have the lyrics in front of me (thank you, Bandcamp) I’d probably struggle to understand exactly what is being sung as it’s so fast. As if to deliver its message home, the first verse is repeated twice – ‘Empty bellies, empty pockets, Yeah, we're hungry and broke, And we're barely making money, We're just staying afloat, Take a drag and make it last, ’Cause its our last pack of smokes, Yeah, whatever man I'll see you at the show.’ The musical delivery is a bit garage punk in style, perhaps not too dissimilar to The Hives but much more raw and DIY – and that’s what this song is about, being in a DIY punk band. Probably the highlight of the EP for me – it even features a heavily distorted guitar solo.

Humble Abode has a seemingly slow start but both the volume and pace soon pick up. You may be able to guess from the song’s title but Humble Abode is about welcoming someone into your home to drink beer and order in food. What I didn’t expect from the song however was a section of the lyrics to be in Spanish. Uncle Dan are full of surprises on this EP and, as if to cement that theory, they bring back the trumpet and proceed to play a sort of mariachi meets almost metal section at the end of the song. It’s pretty bizarre but I also really like it. The final song of the EP is called A Feathered Friend (A Living Dinosaur). Like Humble Abode, this song also has a slow start but this time the slower pace continues through the first verse. The pace picks up for the chorus where the vocals verge on screaming before slowing down again for the second verse. The contrast works really well and add plenty of emotional impact to the song. If I’m interpreting the lyrics correctly, A Feathered Friend is not so much about a feathered friend as it is about a woman who feels caged like a bird. It’s a pretty angry song and ends the EP with a bang.

Uncle Dan was another great little Bandcamp discovery for us here at CPRW and, if you like your punk rock a little raw, you should definitely check them out too.

You can stream and download the EP on Bandcamp here and like Uncle Dan on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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