Dead Ellington  - Refuse EP (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dead Ellington

Refuse EP (2012)


Though hailing from the Boston area, Dead Ellington is all about that classic west coast punk sound. They revel in the days-of-old EpiFat sound, with double-time beats, crisp guitar harmonies and snotty yet melodic vocals. I grew up on the stuff, and while it's not what I gravitate towards lately, I still bust out my Lagwagon records now and then, so I was digging Dead Ellington from the start. That's not to say the band is without a few weaknesses.

The band traveled to New Jersey to record this five-song EP with Pete Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls, and it's an obvious choice with the Souls being a clear influence on the band. The record sounds great, and a successful Kickstarter campaign helped with that.

"The Network" is a hard hitting song that starts chill with a bass riff, then breaks into double time and later even swings. However, the lyrics are a bit like high school poetry. "My life has value / ‘Cause I'm a human being," Sal Medrano sings in the intro, and then they stomp the yard on the drum break. The whole gang shouts "Ain't no power like the power of people / ‘Cause the power of people don't stop!" and the result is a bit cheesy. I could imagine the crowd gets into it live though. The shout-along chorus in "College Credit" is more successful and drives its message of peer conformity home.

Refuse is less double-time heavy than the band's full-length debut Refuse Rethink Rebuild, though there still is a healthy dose, like on opener "The Question," which busts into blitzkrieg mode near its end. Later, they mix it up with the low-key intro to "E.C.T." before breaking into more double-time.

Closer "The Miracle" is my favorite song of the EP, with the catchiest guitar lead and vocal of the set, aided by Medrano staying in his lower, stronger register for the entirety of the song. But again, the lyrics... "I wish I was / Your fucking miracle / Your shooting star." It's a combination of words I don't expect to see and is a little off-putting, though I'm getting used to it. The f-bomb seems to be there only fill syllables.

Overall it's a very strong effort from the still-young group. I look forward to seeing them expand their sound in the future.