The date was December 6th, 2008; the show was Off with Their Heads, Police and Thieves, Dear Landlord, Deep Sleep and Dead Mechanical at the Corpse Fortress
At approximately 5:00 p.m., the first snow to fall on my part of Maryland did so; lawns were not covered, but a thin layer of white gloss embroidered the road just enough that traffic slowed a considerable amount. Around here, people see any faint sign of snow and completely forget how to drive. But it didn't take as long as my initial estimate to arrive. About six, my girlfriend and I finally got through the mess of slush and headlights, trekked down Fenton Road from the Majestic on foot and finally reached the venue...er, house. Police and Thieves and Deep Sleep evidently dropped off last minute and the show continued as a measly, but at the same time incredible, three-act lineup.
Two and a half glorious hours later (the show's demise), my first thought immediately belonged to the opening band Dead Mechanical, who impressed me with their exceptional brand of raw pop-punk. They acquire everything from Hüsker Dü's chordal wall of sound, ringing with open strings to vocals nasally akin to Jason Shevchuk, but recalling the smoky, heartbroken moments of Blake Schwarzenbach. There's something else, though. There's just this air of cynicism that really attracted me and I just had to hear more; it was my mission. The following night, after some skilled detective work, my mission was over as quickly as it came: their most recent 7-inch A Great Lie was in my possession.
At first spin, my on-the-spot comparisons were correct. The title track begins with a very Midwestern-sounding -- maybe it's Alkaline Trio I'm thinking of -- chord progression into a bouncy verse. Dual vocals, contributed by the drummer, enter, and his higher-register yelps contrast the guitarist's well. Both "A Great Lie" and "Bitter Drinks" share memorable choruses while the energy and exposed emotion of a live show is well-documented on the upbeat, drummer-fronted "Sidewalks."
Unfortunately, the brevity of A Great Lie, even in 7-inch standards, warrants this a lower score. The hooks flourish, there's a great level of wit, and overall the songwriting is admirable. But that's just it: At only three songs, the EP's quantity fails to satisfy its quality. I want to say this band would be better in larger doses.
To be honest, I'll be genuinely surprised if Dead Mechanical doesn't get big around here. Hopefully not too big though, because their stripped-down and unapologetic melodies are rather magical in a sweaty basement reeking of body odor.