The Riffs - Dead End Dream (Cover Artwork)

The Riffs

Dead End Dream (2002)


This release does the Riffs justice in capturing their unique, powerful, and authentic sound in 10 concise tracks that tend to be faster tempo, more energetic, and considerably shorter than most of their earlier releases. While their first album, "Underground Kicks" (soon to be released on Vinyl in some Scandinavian Swi-something country and also on TKO Records) was more mid-tempo and accomplished an uncanny resurrection of '77 punk, this album is noticably more in the vein of later ('82), faster and more abrasive punk, though it doesn't sacrifice any talent or authenticity.

Along with immeasurably-better recordings of their previous single "White Line Kids" and it's B-Side "Kick Time Suicide," this album features 7 new tracks and an additional re-recording of the Champions' "In The City." With essentially all of the band members writing the different songs on their own, somehow all of the tracks consolidate into a perfectly-blended, fluidly-flowing album that crystalizes what the Riffs are about--pain, agony, substance abuse, despair and the like. It's explicit and painful but fucking brilliant.


The album begins with one of my two favorite tracks, "Just Another Night," which is reminiscent of their first album.

Another favorite track of mine, "It Ain't Easy," has a different sound than the rest of the tracks, yet retains its unmistakable Riff-ness.

In the album's big tempo change, "Chelsea Says," with the perfect blend of all instruments and killer guitars, the Riffs convey more emotion than I can pinpoint in another punk record and somehow maintain their hardened and toughened characteristics. This is largely due to the eerily-perfect marriage of the desperation in the lyrical content with the hopelessness-and-pain-dulled-by-apathy-and-resignation quality of vocalist Tony Mengis' singing.

In songs like "Nowhere," "Walking Down the Street," and "In The City," however, where the aforementioned '82-style punk sound is more apparent, vocals sort of resemble Lemmy of Motorhead's and you'll hear more agressive, faster guitars and a generally quicker beat.

The Riffs posess enough talent, ingenuity and integrity to deserve credit as one of the best punk bands (I'd personally even argue one of the best rock bands) to date. But this vastly-underrated band is starting to receive some of the respect they deserve and, since they won't change for anybody, they've worked for and earned every single thing they've achieved and then some.

Visit their site at and check out if they'll be in your town soon.