Vinyl Vlog 645

Vinyl Vlog 645

Saturday, 13 April 2024
DeeCRACKS – 20 Years. A Frantic Effort – “Standing On My Head” – [mp3]

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the 20 Years. A Frantic Effort 3×10” set by DeeCRACKS. Since vinyl has retaken the amount of interest that it has among music fans, a fairly impressive amount of time and money has been spent repackaging and reissuing records to let interested parties re-examine a multitude of songbooks – but such endeavors have never really seemed to be in DeeCRACKS’ wheelhouse. On one hand, it could be contended that choosing to release a compilation of re-recorded cuts like A Frantic Effort is very much unlike DeeCRACKS because the band is re-examining a series of songs from a songbook which isn’t actually all that old – but it could also (rightly) be said that such a comp is EXACTLY the sort of release that fans could expect from this band because they have elected to re-record amd re-present them in a fresh manner here.

No matter what, there’s no question that A Frantic Effort starts strongly. “Burnt Out” opens the A-side first with a sample of a joke from Bill Murray in What About Bob? before launching headlong into the song. While the connection between the song and the sample is loose at most, listeners will forget about it as soon as Matthias Karlo’s guitars, Paul Coyote’s bass and Michael Kanduth’s drums hit them, in tandem with some really great vocal performances. It takes less than a minute and a half for listeners to be pulled in and held tightly, and when “Burnt Out” ends and “Another Time Bomb” begins, listeners won’t even blink; the power and punch of the songs is hypnotic and each song is so short there isn’t time to notice when one song ends and the next begins – until “Shambles” closes the side and the record needs flipping, that is.

As strongly as the A-side of A Frantic Effort ended, it would be impossible to deny that “One And A Million Miles” completely exceeds that power. There, buzzsaw guitars dominate the song – but they’re perfectly complimented by Kanduth’s drumming (which, at times, sounds like it could support a Sixties R&B cut, believably), which energizes the music in a completely different way in spite of playing in a very similar manner to how the A-side played. After that, DeeCRACKS touches upon a punk tone much like that which powers a later Vapids album in “We Can’t Help It,” and “I Need A Nurse” plays very similarly but for a hell of a lot longer (almost three minutes – compared with all the previous offerings which ring in at about a minute and a half, that’s an eternity)i – which is mirrored (in execution and in length) by “You Messed My Head Up,” but the improvements made (more melodic hardcore in tone, but with added emphasis on melody) are impressive and will easily spur listeners onto the next platter as the song ends. There’s no question that “You Messed My Head Up” is genetically similar to all the songs which precede it on A Frantic Effort, but the groove that DeeCRACKS locks into here is just so tight that it really feels like the comp is moving forward and is actively improving.

As strongly as “You Messed My Head Up” closed the B-side of A Frantic Effort, there’s no question that the C-side sees some unfortunate backsliding when “Gimme Gimme Plastic Surgery”opens it. There, more cast-off Ramones-isms re-take the primary drive with results which are just okay, comparatively, and they ultimately make “My Baby Quit Rehab” work pretty hard to regain the steam that the band has lost. Even so, the band does manage to meet the feat in less than a minute and even moves beyond where the song was situated with the very Rancid-y street-punk of “Get Out Of My Head” and “Adderall,” before closing out the side with another “just okay” and poppy movement called “Valentine” – which really just sounds like a half-hearted attempt to mimic The Dwarves.

…And, after the needle lifts from the C-side and “Rat In A Trap” opens the D-, those who have chosen to try and run from front-to-back with A Frantic Effort may come to the chilling realization that that they have bitten off more than they can chew with this album because because the play is becoming less and less memorable as it progresses. Sure – “Rat In A Trap” isn’t a bad song – the guitars are hard and fast and the vocals are raspy, but the song doesn’t play like anything novel, fourteen songs into the album’s running. “Just Wanna Play” and “Kill Or Cure” both find exactly the same pitfalls that “Rat In A Trap” found, and it’s questionable if “Monkey Boy” really saves the side before the needle lifts. It’s at this point listeners might realize that enough might be enough from the set – but there is still one more 10” plate to play through before it’s over.

When needle settles into groove and “Stroll The Streets” opens the E-side of A Frantic Effort, listeners may realize how far the bloom has faded from the rose. Once again, DeeCracks charges forward into a “just okay” punk song, and listeners will find themselves wondering how good or bad the running will get “this time.” There are some good songs – “Standing On My Head” sounds like early NOFX but with a much better vocal performance included, “I Wanted It All” re-treads Vapids territory (but plays even better than before) and “Where We Belong” pays like the best-written and composed song on the set as a whole – but there are enough weak moments on the way along that the third disc in this set is really capable of testing listeners’ patience. It’s saying something that, when “Beach 90” cuts in with a multitude of voices contributing backup, many listeners will just be happy that they made it through with no clear signs of self-hard evident. That sentiment may inspire some guilt in those who were really excited for this album, but the guilt isn’t really deserved; A Frantic Effort is not for the faint of heart or the unfocused of mind – and it could certainly have used an editor who could tell when enough is enough. [Bill Adams]


20 Years. A Frantic Effort. is out now. Buy it here, directly from the band’s bandcamp page.

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