CD REVIEW: Down at the Bar by The Danbees

The unbridled gut-punch rock music The Danbees bring to the table has the sort of immediacy longtime lovers of the style haven’t heard in years. It, likewise, has canny production smarts emphasizing their strengths at key moments and a no frills approach to getting in, kicking a listener’s ass, and getting out with a minimum amount of fuss and absolutely no shortcuts. “Down at the Bar” from the New York City based four piece’s soon to hit EP release The Veggie Tapes definitely buzzes with punk energy, but the musicians behind this song are far from zesty incompetents on their respective instruments. They clearly know, however, what it takes to producing brawling, bruising rock music coming at you without pretension and incapable of pretending to be anything it isn’t. The first single from The Veggie Tapes is stamped with whiskey and hard boiled swagger.

Shane Matthews’ lead guitar work isn’t some shredding nonsense, thank god, but rather coherent yet raucous playing keen on finding places within the music where it makes the deepest mark. The Danbees’ music clearly isn’t about solo trips, but the song’s brief instrumental breaks ratchet up the intensity. The frantic drumming from Wade McManus nevertheless hits its marks with a physically engaging balance of power and flash. McManus plays with a style all his own, but it never fails to keep things moving while maintaining the sort of propulsive accuracy few drummers consistently hold together. Lead singer and primary songwriter Mark Slotoroff’s singing is astonishingly varied for such a comparatively simple track – his voice covers a range from slurry leer to tonsil-shredding scream while effortlessly transforming from one to the other with seemingly zero difficulty. His primal yowl has to be gripping in a live setting.

The lyrics are likely autobiographical, given Slotoroff’s experience working in bars, and has a pared down paunchiness illustrating his talent for writing in this style. There’s obvious influences bubbling to the surface in both his words and the song’s musical arrangement, but it’s another distinguishing feature of this act they never sound like slavish imitators but, rather, like young musicians making use of rock as a vehicle for expressing themselves as songwriters and musicians. Wagging tongues and talking heads like to spew their numbers about rock’s declining sales in the face of hip hop and modern “country” music, making one more case for the death of rock, but as long as the world is powered with electricity, people listen to music, and there’s instruments available, young men and women will still latch onto rock’s proverbial “three chords and the truth” ethos and record great songs like “Down at the Bar”. The Danbees are well on their way towards standing among the best known rock acts today and this is the next significant step in that direction.

by Michael Saulman M.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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