Bands get tagged with the “Sounds like…” curse all the time, sometimes unfairly. You have to wonder how many great bands never made it passed playing their friends’ basements for beer and heejs simply because the world collectively agreed that it didn’t need another “cross between Sonic Youth, ‘Repeater’-era Fugazi and Alkaline Trio. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying originality is a bad thing. Just keep in mind that we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel with guitars and drums, and sometimes that “fresh new sound” comes across more like a hot steaming pile of musical garbage created to keep small toddlers amused (Hi, Vampire Weekend. We’re looking right at you).
So where does that leave Baltimore’s Dead Mechanical? I’ll say this: “Medium Noise” has been one of my favorite listens during these past few months. Does it break new ground? Hell no. What it does do is merge early 90’s Gilman Street punk with east coast cynicism. The best songs mimic the Jawbreaker formula to a “T”: chunky guitars with buzzsaw riffs, and open-letter-to-a-near-girlfriend lyrics about how she did you wrong. The Best of the bunch, “One Act Play” pays homage to “Jawbreaker’s “Condition Oakland” with a breakup message left on an machine answering playing over a breakdown. “I’ll bet you’ll never know what its like …creating new regrets to keep close to you at night”.
Other highlights: The speed- rant of Dear Marketing Department (“The committee to ruin everything isn’t taking cigarette breaks/They’re eating lunch at their desks these days”), with its message that for some of us, it’s always just going to shit is brilliant as is the closer, “Shitty Wedding”. The latter is a a partly gutbustingly funny, partly kinda heartbreaking rumination of a friends wedding and the sad realization that sometimes moving forward in life means leaving a big part of yourself behind.