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Dead To Me - Moscow Penny Ante (Cover Artwork)

Dead To Me

Dead To Me: Moscow Penny AnteMoscow Penny Ante (2011)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's time to stop worrying about personnel changes and just learn to trust Dead to Me. Over the course of seven members, three full-lengths, a couple EPs and a split 7-inch or two, the sometimes-quartet, sometimes-power trio has never managed to write a bad song. Their latest offering, Moscow Penny .
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It's time to stop worrying about personnel changes and just learn to trust Dead to Me. Over the course of seven members, three full-lengths, a couple EPs and a split 7-inch or two, the sometimes-quartet, sometimes-power trio has never managed to write a bad song. Their latest offering, Moscow Penny Ante, marks the debut of the band's latest lineup, featuring Sam Johnson (New Mexican Disaster Squad, VRGNS) on guitar and vocals, as well as Ken Yamazaki (Western Addiction, Enemy You) on second guitar. The record displays something of a "back to basics" approach after the (awesome) genre-hopping of 2009's African Elephants. Moscow Penny Ante could be seen a step backwards by some, but it's a step backwards in the best possible way.

The record starts off with a bang in what is probably the fastest song of the band's career, "Undertow." The speedy upstrokes in the track's verses are the only traces left of the ska-punk the band experimented with on African Elephants, and arguably their finest hour, 2008's Little Brother EP. Moscow Penny Ante is a straightforward punk rock record through and through.

Johnson makes his presence known early on in the album's second track, "Reckless Behavior." The vocal style he brings to the table in Dead to Me is almost completely unrecognizable from his previous bands. He actually sounds a fair bit like his predecessor in Dead to Me, Nathan Grice, here, most notably on "Victims of No Ambition" and the Cock Sparrer-esque "No Lullabies", which sounds a bit more urgent here than the early version heard on the band's three-way split with Off With Their Heads and the Riverboat Gamblers. Saves The Day's Chris Conley is also a fair comparison, vocal-wise.

Longtime bassist/vocalist Tyson "Chicken" Annicharico is the real star of the show here, however, singing lead on eight of the album's 12 tracks. It's amazing how much variety he can really bring to the table where songwriting is concerned within the context of what are, on the surface, simple punk rock songs. The verses of "The Hand With Inherited Rings" carries a "Blue Album"-era Weezer vibe in its verses, while the bouncy chorus of "The Monarch Hotel" is as danceable as anything that bands like MGMT or Foster the People are putting out.

Matt Allison, notable for his production work with bands like Alkaline Trio and the Lawrence Arms, sat behind the boards for Moscow Penny Ante, and he has given the record a sound that is both raw and huge-sounding at the same time. It really sounds like the band is playing right in front of you.

Moscow Penny Ante is another left turn for Dead to Me. They've gone back to the aggression that made us all fall in love with the band in the first place, but they've retained the maturity and sharper songwriter that marked their previous full-length. They continue to defy expectations, and bounce back from lineup turnovers just as strong as ever. Moscow Penny Ante is a bold statement, so I'll end with a bold statement of my own; Dead to Me has released the best punk rock album of 2011.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
exilesamongyouyouyou (February 18, 2013)

Sure, "Monarch Hotel" is a great song, but "The Trials of Oscar Wilde" is by far the best song on this album and nobody is talking about it.

ak3punk (November 5, 2012)

Love this album.

Thumbs (May 21, 2012)

Thumbs up.

nedsammy (December 28, 2011)

Undertow's a stronger than strong opener, and I'm getting into the rest of the record as well, but slowly. It's great, but I'm not sure what to give it yet.

84sheepdizzle (December 28, 2011)

Dead to Me/ Cobra Skulls/ Assassinate the Scientist/ Routine Scheme/ the '84 Sheepdog/ The Caffiends --New Years Eve @ Propaganda Lake Worth. We have PRE SALE TICKETS! This show WILL sell out, so act fast! $15 bucks for 21 and up, $20 bucks if your under 21. The '84 Sheepdog and Routine Scheme are the TICKETMASTERS of this event, otherwise you can stop in at Propaganda and buy them at the bar. DONT DELAY! ACT NOW!! Call now! 561-523-3831

MarvTheZombie (December 25, 2011)

Just got this for Christmas, definitely one of the best punk albums I've heard in the past 5 years. Can't get "Monarch Hotel" out of my head, and I'd like to keep it that way. Fat Wreck has my absolute faith at this point.

kylewagoner (December 13, 2011)

African Elephants all the way. This is still gold.

punker001 (December 12, 2011)

Can't believe no one has mentioned No Lullabies!!!! Best song they've ever written! So catchy

bobbie (December 8, 2011)

Votin'

feloniousjive (December 4, 2011)

"Never managed to write a bad song"....can't agree there at all, and both Sam and Nathan sounded like they were trying to sing like Jack, IMHO. That all said....this is a good album!!! Way more consistent/cohesive than Elephants.

mowlio (November 18, 2011)

unlistenable. Loved their other stuff though, the new singer is annoying

nocomply (November 18, 2011)

Changed my mind. The album is amazing but only get 4.5 stars.

nocomply (November 18, 2011)

I like this record more than is probably healthy. I also loved DTM's last record in the same way. These guys are great!

dangerdangerdanger (November 9, 2011)

Better than African Elephants not better than the Little Brother EP almost as good as Cuban Ballerina.
All that aside, on it's own it is a very good album.

ughlee (November 4, 2011)

It's okay. People who say it's better than Jack-era DTM are out of their minds. It is definitely a step up from African Elephants, though.

peheme (November 4, 2011)

still need to give it some listens, but so far so good!

BonerBurger (October 28, 2011)

"African Elephants," would have been one of the greatest albums ever if all of the songs not sang by Chicken were sang by somebody other than whoever sang them. His lyrics sucked, his vocals sounded like he was trying too hard, and it's hard to fill Jack's shoes. I am uber excited to hear this new album. Pretty much anyone can do better than that last guy as the second vocalist. Plus, Chicken's (wouldn't be weird if his parents/friends/family all called him chicken? If he had the integrity that Marty McFly had, he'd have bullets in his head by now) songs just keep getting better and better. God bless Dead To Me and Russia and Ivan Drago.

MN_DrNick (October 26, 2011)

Yawn.... snore..... sorry, but this doesn't do anything for me.

I love this band, but this isn't as great as people are saying.

Punk album of 2011? No. Not by a long shot.

walkingisstillhonest (October 26, 2011)

I fucking dig this album. It's awesome. Especially "The Monarch Hotel". Holy shit, it's catchy.

Dead To Me's releases in order of awesome-ness (for me):
Cuban Ballerina > Moscow Penny Ante > Little Brother > African Elephants > Wait for It... Wait for It!!!

but I really fucking like all of it.

oldpunkerforever (October 26, 2011)

I will admit I am late to the party with these guys, however this cd is brilliant-oldpunker-

filbunke (October 26, 2011)

Is the album cover supposed to look like a cymbal-banging monkey?

http://members.arstechnica.com/x/athos/monkey_cymbals.jpg

r3vengetherapy (October 26, 2011)

This is still growing on me, but it's totally great. African Elephants was a really good record, but it took awhile to get used to the stylistic change. This was immediate. Still can't beat Cuban Ballerina, and it's all a far cry from the absolute maddening brilliance of the Little Brother EP. Also, I don't think "Undertow" is the fastest song they've written...it seems like a lot of stuff from CB and LB were just as fast, if not faster.

damnitsderek (October 25, 2011)

I'm in the minority here in the fact that I really enjoyed African Elephants, but lawda mercy this is even better.

BananaJoe (October 25, 2011)

I just like their first album.

telegraphrocks (October 25, 2011)

Yep, this record is fucking awesome. Definitely one of the best bands playing today.
And fuck anyone that gives "African Elephants" shit. That album is incredible!

MuhammadMormon (October 25, 2011)

WHOOPS! I misread your comment about Sam's vocals. My bad!
Conley's still a little bitch though.

MuhammadMormon (October 25, 2011)

GREAT fucking album!!! Honestly, this night be their best. I just can not stop listening to it.

Great review also, with the exception of describing Sam's vocals. He sounds way different than his previous bands, no question.
Also, fuck Chris Conley,,, little pink-haired bitch.

atomicgarden89 (October 25, 2011)

This band has totally redeemed themselves as the best modern day bay area punk band in my opinion.

Make_Way (October 25, 2011)

strong album of the year candidate for me, at least.

Chadreligion (October 25, 2011)

This is is still trying to grow on me a bit.... I really don't think it's better than African Elephants(SUE ME), yet, it's a good follow-up, and I think Sam is doing a good job on vocals, but just needs to go up a notch.
I think this band needs more reggae/world beat shit... really. Just saying because it works so well.
Rating is for the album as a whole.

woodprop (October 25, 2011)

Nice return to form!

baseball (October 25, 2011)

A lot better than African Elephants. Need to go with 3.5 stars though because I still think this band's best material by far is their EPs.

filthyhabits (October 25, 2011)

i dig this record, but some of sam's vocals are so whiny. i don't get why he changed his vocal style up so much from his other bands. however, i think 'never relief' is one of the best songs so go figure. everything chicken touches still turns to gold. pretty sure i can make the best dead to me playlist ever after this one.

evanPGH (October 25, 2011)

Bold closing statement indeed.

I like this album but I don't love it, for now. For some reason it just doesn't sound cohesive to me, the mood swings throughout this album seem a bit forced.

I think this one might grow on me after a few more plays and I'm a bit disappointed in myself that I don't like it as much as I thought (or hoped) I would.

Don't let my out of the norm opinion sway you, everyone else seems to love it!

blanktapesemptybottles (October 25, 2011)

I think it's awesome that Sam is trying out different vocals, it was so suprising, listening to it this early in the morning I was like is that Ken singing, what is going on, I have to let it play through again to fully grasp the change, it's so different, but it's definitely a return to what Chicken was originally going for and that's awesome, this band has never made a bad album.

NintendoJones (October 25, 2011)

I could barely listen to African Elephants, but I think this is great.

palpitations101 (October 25, 2011)

Ummm...fuck yeah?

Yep. FUCK YEAH!!!

undeadsailor (October 25, 2011)

Pope is the coolest. Will listen, even harder, based on his opinion.

eazyd2 (October 25, 2011)

not really upstrokes though are they

lukabratzi (October 25, 2011)

This album is so fucking good. I love these guys.

Although Blue was a terrible, terrible song.

punkmaniac05 (October 25, 2011)

Is it just me or are the lyrics to Monarch Hotel, "Let's all get hard, and cum for suffering"

mattramone (October 25, 2011)

Read the last line and had to double check that this wasn't written by Pete.

Michael_Berryman (October 25, 2011)

The Monarch Hotel is my favorite song of the year so far, i think. maybe.

Michael_Berryman (October 25, 2011)

fully agree with you Po-Chil.

hayman (October 25, 2011)

I just want to know if the vocal follows the guitar or the other way round like on the last record. That really annoyed me for some reason. I want to hear more songs like the little brother EP, now that was a cracker. Each to their own though.

AllAgesPete (October 25, 2011)

I love this album so much. The guitars sound amazing. Reckless Behavior is my favorite song on here.

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