For Fans of: Katy Perry
Recommended Tracks: “Get To The Beach!” “Big Bag of Sandwiches” “Shit Twins”
What the hell do you expect from a band called Dads? If you guessed actual dads, well you’re wrong. On the other hand, if you guessed emo music, congratulations! You have the ability to match hilarious band names to their respective genre. It really is a talent; use it wisely.
Dads is an emo two piece formed by the broiest of bros John Bradley on drums and vocals, and Scott Scharinger on guitar and backing vocals. Two unusually adorable men with a love of top 40 radio pop, a taste for cheap beer, and a fantastic ability for crafting song and album titles. If you can’t get past my sarcastic veneer then allow me to come right out and say that I freaking love this band. I really, really do. If you caught me writing this review around this time last year, then I can promise that you’d probably find me hunched over my keyboard frothing from my mouth over the joy of having just discovered these guys.
I think part of the reason why I like Dads so much is that they are a band that I can honestly say I identify with. I can picture them both around my age very clearly, young, awkward, and listening to Brand New and Blink-182 albums in each other’s basements, pining over some girl or drinking their dad’s (hee hee) liquor. You can tell me I’m wrong and that these two dudes were actually lady killing James Bond-esq, herculean super beings, but I still wouldn’t be able to shake this very vivid image that I have of them.
I hopped on the Dads bandwagon last year with the release of the out of nowhere 10-track LP “American Radass (This Is Important).” “American Radass” was a record so damn good that it somehow dwarfed every other release that year. Even as Death Grips raided homes, and a Good Kid rapped about living in m.a.a.d city, I could not drop the instant and nearly obsessive love I had with that record. Why is it so good? Because “American Radass” is a record that could only be created by two friends who are so in sync, and so completely and fully understand one and other. The subject matter on “American Radass” is hardly uncharted water in emo music but the way of tackling it is. While I wouldn’t describe it as happy, Dads have a very interesting way of turning their struggles with breakups, fear of permanence, drinking problems, depression and loneliness into something that is unmistakably uplifting. What gives “American Radass” its air of magic however is the relationship between Bradley and Scharinger. You truly get the feeling that these two are helping each other, pulling the other up when he falls and fighting their demons together with a beer in hand and a Katy Perry song on repeat (preferably “Thinking of You”).
Naturally, the album would have suffered if the songs were anything less than near pop perfection. Thankfully, they are. The ten songs that make up “American Radass” are direct, to the point, and if they were created by literally anyone else on the planet, would have come across as stupid and nearly unlistenable. In the hands of these two bros however, they’re unforgettable. Tracks like “Big Bag of Sandwiches” and “Get To The Beach” are obvious standouts amongst obvious standouts, delivering high-energy rushes and thrills that are relatively hard to come by in guitar based music these days. Album centerpiece is the six-minute epic “Shit Twins,” which begins with a poem written by Scharinger and concludes with a cathartic release of shoegaze-esq distortion and harmonies. Other highlights included the wonderfully titled “Bakefast at Piffany’s,” the all too brief and all too personal “Groin Twerk” and the massive closer “Heavy To Touch (Think About Tonight, Forget About Tomorrow).”
Despite the limitations that often come with the two-man group, Dads have a remarkably full sound. One can easily trace the duo’s influence back to the late 90s with the release of American Football’s self titled LP, a group whose twinkly sound Dads borrows heavily from. In addition to that, it’s clear that Dads have studied the best that top 40 pop has to offer, and one can’t help but notice the whiff of Taylor Swift or Katy Perry in the band’s music.
Dads preceded “American Radass” with a brief, lo-fi EP called “Brush Your Teeth Again;)” – yes, the winky face is actually a part of the title. “Brush Your Teeth Again;)” is an interesting document of the band in their early stages, crafting songs that lacked the full sound of “American Radass” but keep its sense of humor and its lyrical honesty. Though you won’t find anything quite as jaw dropping as “Shit Twins” or as catchy as “Big Bag of Sandwiches,” “Brush Your Teeth Again;)” is still a fantastic look at the band in the early days of their career.
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t let down by the band’s latest effort, however. Following the success of “American Radass,” Dads returned with a four-track EP titled “Pretty Good.” The EP was a stark departure from the band’s original sound and was a shift in favor of a larger arena rock sound (think Japandroids if they listened to a load of Snowing and American Football). Though the band still retains its sense of sincerity on this release, the songs lack the sense of humor and personality that made the tracks on “American Radass” and “Brush Your Teeth Again;)” so remarkable. But hey, I trust these guys at this point. I mean, they did convince me that an album called “American Radass (This Is Important)” could be something of a masterpiece, right?
You can find Dads on their bandcamp page: