Sunday, November 13, 2011

Album Review: Moscow Penny Ante

Title:  Moscow Penny Ante (Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

Dead To Me has gone through quite a few lineup changes since their 2006 debut album Cuban Ballerina but that hasn't caused the music to suffer.  In fact I'd go so far as to say that their debut and the follow up EP Little Brother are nothing short of punk rock perfection.  Their sophomore full-length album, African Elephants, was the first release without guitarist and co-vocalist Jack Dalrymple (who left the band to focus on being a father).  Dalrymple was replaced by Nathan Grice.  Admittedly I didn't think that much of African Elephants when it first came out.  Part of my issue with the record was that Dalrymple wasn't on it (I've been a big fan of his work going back to the early days of One Man Army) but over time I've come to enjoy the record and think highly of it.  

Fast forward to 2010.  Grice had left the band and been replaced by Sam Johnson while Ken Yamazaki was added on guitar to the band to help fill out the sound.  This new lineup has toured relentlessly and recorded a couple of 7 inch records (one being a tour split with Riverboat Gamblers and Off With Their Heads) before releasing their third full-length album, Moscow Penny Ante, last month.  And I think it's been that extra time together as a band, touring and recording 7 inches, that has made this record sound like it was recorded by a band that has played together for years (plus I'm sure it helps that guitarist Yamazaki played with Tyson "Chicken" Annicharico in Western Addiction). 

Moscow Penny Ante is classic (if that term can be used for a band on their third album) Dead To Me -- melodic pop punk with hints of melodic hardcore and post hardcore with extremely passionate and often very personal lyrics.  From the opening thunder of "Undertow" to the closing notes of "The World Has Gone Mad," Moscow Penny Ante is a stellar record.  Johnson really steps up to the plate and is an excellent compliment to Chicken's singing.  And while a part of me will always wonder what each new Dead To Me record would sound like with Dalrymple back in the band, this lineup has proven to be extremely solid.  

Longtime fans of Dead To Me should not be disappointed with Moscow Penny Ante in the least.  For those who have never heard Dead To Me then this record is as good a place as any to start because in all honesty, all of their releases are good to brilliant.  Fans of The Bouncing Souls, ALL, Jawbreaker, Red City Radio, or The Copyrights should definitely check out Dead To Me.     

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