Dads – “Pretty Good”

(Photo Credit: best-vinyl.blogspot.com)

Grade: B

Dads, a wonderfully fast and gleefully sad duo from New Jersey, have been looking to shed their emo background. In March they were crowned the best emo band ever in Property of Zack’s March Sadness competition (probably in part to being the only band interested in the competition and encouraging their fanbase to vote). But the emo branding bears some weights, as the word ’emo’ brings more bad bands to mind than good ones. So the duo hopes to change that on their new four track EP, “Pretty Good.” It yearns for their emo-leaning work, but for a band attempting outreaches, it succeeds.

The opening track, “My Crass Patch,” is easily the EP’s best. The song is vocally similar to their previous works, but feels heavier and angrier. It sets the transition off on the right foot, sending a different message than the carefree-yet-miserable feel of their 2012 album, “American Radass (This Is Important).” The second track, “Can I Be Yr Deadbeat Boyfriend?” continues with the heavy feel, and adds a little punk inspiration throughout it’s very short run. It is the most reminiscent of their older music, sounding similar to the heavily-intro blasts like “Groin Twerk” and “Grunt Work,” while still sounding more purposeful.

The third song, “Boat Rich,” sounds terrible out of context of the album. Taken for what it is, the song sounds like a cornier (dare I say, more ‘radio-friendly’) version of “Let’s Go to the Beach!” from ‘Radass.’ But on the album, its lighter tone makes for a break from the heavy nature of the first two tracks. It also allows for the band to show that their branching out leads in both directions. This is further emphasized on the final track, “No We’re Not Actually,” a five minute slow burner.

“Pretty Good” lives up to it’s title. For a transition work, it is successful. But Dads only have two albums under their belt – their decent “Brush Your Teeth Again ;)” and the utterly perfect ‘Radass,’ and it is kind of a shame to see them leaving the genre so soon. I was hoping for one or two more of their lo-fi, emo pleasures before they branched out. Ultimately, it’s their decision, and they can’t be blamed for wanting to escape from the ‘twinkly’ emo before they’re sucked in and unfairly lumped in with worse bands. Let’s hope they can master these transitions as well as they can emo. For what it’s worth, I saw Dads play in Amityville, New York, and for two guys with limited time and a bad venue, they were phenomenal.

If you like this, try: “Where Were You While We Were Getting High?” by One Hundred Year Ocean, an emo EP by a band comprised of some members of recent Dads tourmates The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. I have also reviewed The World Is’ recent debut, as well as the debut from Pity Sex, who were also on the bill. I’m a fan of Topshelf Records and their offshoots.

-By Andrew McNally

One Hundred Year Ocean – “Where Were You While We Were Getting High?”

Photo Credit: Bandcamp

Grade: B+

A four-track EP from the six-piece collective One Hundred Year Ocean moderately resembles the growing band that includes some of the same members, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. The four tracks on this EP are more consistent in tone, but bare resemblance to the great emo band.

It is tough to really establish an idea across only four tracks, so nothing is overly fleshed out. But there is a distinct sense that the band is toying with song structures. The build-ups that are frequent among similar-sounding bands are present, just not at the usual points in the songs. There is a feeling that the music, just like the music of The World Is…, is not based on songs but one large idea, and the songs are just fragments of it.

The volume is steady on the album, as the verses seem to fit in with typical structures. So the band seems to operate as a bridge between standard music and the experimental and drawn-out sound of The World Is…, combining elements of both. There is a slight humorous edge to the band, too, evident in the title of the EP and on the song title “Soco Amaretto Bud Light Lime” (a take on Brand New’s “Soco Amaretto Lime”) and in the darkly catchy lyrics of opener “Hospital Town.” It is difficult to expand an EP into something great, but One Hundred Year Ocean is doing a pretty unique thing. It is distinctly emo-based, with elements of punk and a little room for experimentation.

If you like this, try: “Whenever, If Ever” by the aforementioned The World Is… (just released last month, scroll down only a little ways for a review)