Dan Andriano - European Vacation [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dan Andriano

European Vacation [7-inch] (2012)

Red Scare

In a punk scene where every frontperson indulges him- or herself in a solo project, Dan Andriano and Brendan Kelly are two of the few who have gotten it right. Both Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room and Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds offer entirely different listening experiences than their leaders' main projects, yet retain the high standards set forth by those groups. On European Vacation, the Falcon bandmates offer up two very different, yet very enjoyable new songs.

Andriano goes first with "Radiator." Lyrically, the Alkaline Trio bassist/co-vocalist is as direct and as straight-shooting as ever. "I haven't learned a goddamn thing since we turned 20 / But I think it's time we learned to say we're sorry," he croons less than 30 seconds into the track. It's the strongest song we've heard from this project since its full-length debut, and it actually manages to best many of the tracks from that album. "Radiator" is a pretty bare-bones track musically, utilizing only two acoustic guitar tracks and a distant tambourine under Andriano's vocals, but it totally works.

Brendan Kelly and the Wandering Birds take the opposite approach with the expanded instrumentation of "Malthusian Clown." The extreme level of distortion on Kelly's voice in the intro suggests a young Tom Waits, and the circus-like vibe that Waits' music has often utilized is heard throughout the tune as well. The song sounds nothing like anything from the project's I'd Rather Die than Live Forever album, which means it would fit right in on that album. Kelly telling you he's a clown isn't exactly uncharted territory lyrically, but it doesn't matter. The song is a winner.

Both Andriano and Kelly have been writing some of the best songs of their careers recently, and this nifty little 7" keeps that forward momentum going. Fans of either musician would do well to give European Vacation a spin.