Decent Criminal - Decent Criminal (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Decent Criminal

Decent Criminal (2016)

Dumptruck Records/Endless Bummer Records


Santa Rosa, California’s surf-punk outfit Decent Criminal has been putting their time into the NorCal punk scene since their formation in 2008. After some major line up changes, releasing a split 7-inch, a good amount of touring (even with Bad Cop/Bad Cop last summer), they have now released a proper self-titled full-length.

When you take a closer look at Decent Criminal you’ll see that they are much more than just a surf-punk band. They are all over the place on this record, which makes it quite sonically diverse. And with all these different sounds Decent Criminal takes on through out this record you can definitely hear the punk influence through out the whole thing, Sometimes its blatantly obvious and at other times you can hear hints of it.

The track “Vacant” starts the out album out with a mixture of surf and garage punk. You can definitely here the garage rock vibe come from the lightly distorted guitar progressions and fast drum fills. You can also hear a lot of the surf influence from the guitar licks that at follow the backing vocalists’ melodies as well the laid back way the words are sung.

Compared to “Vacant” and even the majority of the rest of the album, the track “Sore” is one of Decent Criminal’s heavier songs. They clearly turned up the gain for the sort of “stop-and-go” main guitar riff, but they still kept their highly melodic vocals. One of the more notable moments of this record is during this song where the three vocalists progressively sing a three-part harmony. It’s definitely something you don’t see coming from this track, but it’s a pleasant surprise and it shows just how much the band is willing to push itself.

But Decent Criminal knows how to slow things down with their more indie rock sounding songs like “Binge” and “Sunburn.” But where they really turn down the volume is with their acoustic-based songs like “Riverside.” It’s a much calmer song than the rest and it almost steps into blues and even western territory. It even has a bit of a old-fashion folk feel to it especially because of lines like, “Meet me down by the riverside/ It’s there we’ll make our place.”

Decent Criminal has come out with a strong first full length. This is a band that clearly has found its own sound and mastered it fairly early on in its career, but at the same time they aren’t afraid to venture out of their comfort zone and branch out a little bit. For those you who are fans of Jeff Rosenstock’s We Cool?, anything from Antarctigo Vespucci’s discography, toyGuitar’s In This Mess, or anything like those releases, you should give this album a shot. Decent Criminal definitely falls somewhere around the realm those bands are in, but they bring something unique to the table.

You can check this album out here.

Note to my fellow vinyl nerds:

150 copies of this record were pressed on black vinyl and another 100 were pressed on sea blue vinyl.