Reviews Dead Bars Regulars

Dead Bars

Regulars

Dead Bars are one of those bands that’s somehow both fun and super depressing. The lyricism is what you’ll normally read about with this band – and for good reason – but it’s all around fun-yet-meaningful punk that fits different moods and brings out different emotions depending on when you listen to it.

The band released a few 7”s before 2017’s debut Dream Gig, which was a personal favorite and showed that their style could hold up over the long play format too. The last song, also called “Dream Gig,” clocked at 7:25, nearly half the record, and hinted that while the first impression of Dead Bars might be light-hearted, this is a growing, serious band.

Regulars picks up right where the last one left off. There are no 8-minute songs here, but it shows growth in its craft. The themes remain similar to previous releases: all eleven tracks on Regulars explore alcoholism, aging, aimlessness, and making the best of what you have – all in a delicate balance. Many songs glorify the good times, but the lyrics also highlight the hangovers to come. Take a look at “Lucky,” which is a song about trying to get to Lucky Liquor before it closes. It’s seeking redemption in liquid form, with an earnest desperation that reveals depth far beyond an urge to party.

Meanwhile, the band has honed some blue-collar rock chops. “I’m a Regular” is the most obvious example here, referencing Tom Petty repeatedly with chugging guitar befitting of the namesake. I heard the song live earlier and it didn’t grab me the same way, but the heart shines through and captures Petty’s spirit while still sounding like Dead Bars all the way through. It’s probably the most memorable track here. “I Need You” has some additional classic rock influence, but this is one of my least favorite tracks on the record. Given the record name and focus on alcohol-selling establishments, it’s also impossible not to reference The Replacements.

It’s hard not to focus on the band’s lyrical style. Take “No Tattoos” with its “All my friends have tattoos/ But I don’t have any tattoos/ They want to remember something/ And I want to forget everything” opening. It’s a perfect sample of the band’s unique first-person tone. It’s blunt and seems overly simple on first impression. Then it turns it on its side with a near catch-phrase capability of using daily life as a metaphor about the larger experience. While it’s first person in tone, it’s a universal experience. “Rain” kicks off with one of my favorite guitar hooks on the record and the descriptive imagery has the listener immersed in a dreary walk home the morning after a bender. Hell, they even make “Pink Drink” into deep thoughts. However dark the lyrics may go, Dead Bars are a band of resilience. It’s the story of getting through each day, and then getting up again tomorrow and chugging through.

Much like “I’m a Regular,” it took me a couple listens to fully get this record. I liked it, but the production seemed a little to crisp for a band I’d first heard on scruffy 7”s. Jack Endino’s production, best known for his work with Seattle bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, just didn’t feel right. Repeated listening has appeased that first impression, though. The guitars on Regulars crunch with emotion put they also push through with an endearing positivity that’s the heart of Dead Bars. Early recordings leaned a bit heavily on coarse vocals to illustrate the band’s heart, where Regulars shifts some of the focus. 

8.8 / 10Loren
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A-F

2019

8.8 / 10

8.8 / 10

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