Music is constantly changing and diversifying, and the 2010s have been one of the most fascinatingly transitional periods in the storied history of pop. Rock bands are adopting the recording techniques of their experimental hip-hop brethren, jazz artists are refurbishing their style to meet digitally aestheticized demands, and country singers are starting to tackle subject matter that’s a bit more connective with contemporary issues faced by cosmopolitan people. Indeed this is an amazing time to be an audiophile and to be a critic, but some of us feel like the diversification of popular music has come at a very steep cost. That same “some of us” has been chanting one complaint consistently in the last five years, and artists like New York’s The Danbees have heard it loud and clear. The quibble is that in the wake of rock becoming a multilayered concept genre, we’ve started losing the puritan, blue collar rock n’ roll that captivated all of us more than three generations ago. The Danbees and their contemporaries aren’t about to let the flame of rock die out so easily though, and in their new record The Veggie Tapes they wage an audiological battle with time and trend to defend the little bit of integrity and authenticity that vintage rock n’ roll still has.
As far as extended plays are concerned, The Veggie Tapes is remarkably full-bodied and robust in content for being as short and to the point as it is. Obviously the main allure of this release is the pair of singles – “Down at the Bar” and “Can’t Sleep” – that were released ahead of the record, but The Danbees didn’t leave us hanging with the other four songs that accompany them. “Fell Off” could have also made a decent single, and while “Going Down” comes off as a little bit confusing among all of the cutting, tuneful hard rock that it sits beside it’s still not a bad track for the band or counterproductive to what they’re trying to accomplish with this EP. “Let’s Get It Right” and “Here I Am With My Back on the Wall” are a little meatier, and overall I have to say I was a bit surprised at how strong and poignantly the latter track was able to finish out the record.
I’m going to go on the record with a prediction I’ve got about this band. The Danbees forthcoming full length record, which hasn’t been recorded or announced yet, will sound something like The Veggie Tapes on steroids, and it’s going to be the album to put them on the pop map. This EP is who they really are when the chips are down, and to me it’s much more representative of their skill and talent as a collective entity than anything we heard on Fishnets Anonymous was. I could speculate more on what I think future releases will sound like for these guys, or I could get down to bottom line about The Veggie Tapes; the reality is, this record wasn’t meant for the casual rock listener, the major label A&R reps or music critics like myself. It was made for the do or die rock fans who have kept the genre’s spirit alive, even when a lot of us saw it as unsalvageable in today’s market.