Dark Thoughts - At Work (Cover Artwork)

Dark Thoughts

At Work (2018)

Stupid Bag records

My first day without a job; I quit, I walked out. I lay on my bed, wondering what I’m going to do with my life. Dark Thoughts latest release, At Work, blares from my speakers. Funny, I think to myself.

“I could be anywhere but here. Everybody sucks, everybody blows,” Jim, lead singer and guitarist, gutturally moans at me, “I’m so sick of pretending that it’s just the way it goes.”

Fuck, he was so right. My job sucked and I didn’t want to be there. I worked hard with no return, except hours cut and less money. The customers blew, the coworkers were brown noses, and the manager was a prick that enforced dumb rules at a whim.

“They make up the rules and I don’t wanna play. I don’t wanna play!”

It’s not just the relatable words that Jim blurts at me that help cheer me up. His guitar has the kind of done-with-it attitude and wail I can get behind while the bassist, Amy, holds down the songs in a way that help me find my balance. It follows the guitar and never holds back. Dan, the drummer, plays it fast and tight. It’s booming and lightning fast.

I know these songs by heart already from seeing them live more than any other current local band and listening to the album every day since its release. As Anything II’s guitar comes marching towards me, Jim coos one of my favorite vocal lines. It’s the kind of melody I would hum on my way to work, soaking up the bliss before the breakdown.

The energy is sucked out of the room with a quick moment of silence before everything comes crashing back in. The bass, the guitar, the vocals, and drums all fill the crevices of my bedroom with their bright tone and cymbal bell hits.

“I don’t wanna be here, I don’t wanna be anywhere. But I got no choices left.” I know people liken Dark Thoughts to the Ramones - the band DOES model itself firmly around their culture - and Psycho Ward is the song that really hits that point home for me. Jim has this weird way of rounding his voice like Joey. I’ve read he tailors his guitar sound to the exact dial as Johnny. The band has been quoted as actively placing themselves onstage in the same formation.

“Get me outta this place, someone set me free.”

As I searched Craigslist’s for my next job, the band told me all the things they wished for in the 4th song of the album, I Wish.

“I keep making the same mistakes you know they give me so much heartache. Oh, it hurts me so.” Dan hits the drums hard and with sincerity. It breaks the fast rhythm of the previous three songs to make a point. The guitar and bass follow, dropping to a low note and chugging at it.

I hear the whoosh of my cover letter and resume being sent to a scrambled craigslist ad email address and Dark Thoughts responds with their most mellow song of the album, With You. I sway back and forth in the cradle of the tempo.

“You’re so smart. Like S-M-A-R-T... I don’t know much but I know that much is true.”

Dark Thoughts has a reoccurring trick of starting a song with just Jim - just the guitar and the vocals. But, it never gets old. They repackage it as perfection for each intro. Amy and Dan wait back and know when to come in.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t leave this lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely life... with you.”

But enough of the sap. They’re quick to jump back into a banger with Watch You Walk Away. Meanwhile I peruse more of Craigslist, apathetically hoping there’s a job that sounds mildly interesting.

Must have experience. Must have a bachelors degree. Must have a CDL license.

“If I was a movie you could fast-forward right through me. Get to the good parts. You seen it all before.” The guitar and bass open up, jarring you with silence as Dan’s drums reverberate and hit you like a 1- 2 punch combo.

While filling out applications for jobs I don’t want and sipping on my third coffee for the day, I hadn’t noticed that Two Coffees bounced onto the stereo.

“Maybe I’ll just hang around the house because money talks and I’m as quiet as a churchmouse. Nobody’s listening anyways.”

Another whoosh sound of a resume to a job. Half the time these people don’t even reply. I play the drums on my cross-legged knees and bounce my head to the pulse. When Dan hits that cymbal bell it gets me. Something in the background resonates in a way that sounds like a quiet choir singing ahs.

The sun is beginning to set, creeping darkness into my house. The feedback of Don’t Wanna steps through the new shadows and into my ears. The beat pulses on as I send my last resume for the day. With nighttime looming in the summer breeze, it’s time to get ready for another night out. Jim shouts my inner monologue, “I don’t wanna go out tonight...”

This album comes at the right time. It’ll be the summer jams; the songs I play on the beach, the songs I blast in the car with the windows rolled down. These songs smell like sand and sunscreen.

As I get ready for another show at another DIY venue with another lineup of local bands with angry 20-somethings, Jim hits me a little too close to home, “I hate this song. I hate the bands playing here. I hate the people who listen. I hate the records they put out.”

The record is great, guys. It’s getting me through what I’m going through now. It’s fast and hard and hits that spot in your chest that beats for the Ramones, beats for Marked Men, beats for the apathy of the day-to-day.

The last song leaves me with hope. It’s the middle finger to your boss and all the customers that bring you down. It sums up the whole record, sums up what it feels like to be a certain age in a certain time - right now - while also speaking to me in a ‘76 language I can understand.

As I sigh at the thought of all the emails I sent today that will never get a reply, Dark Thoughts leaves me with these words, marching to a beat that we can all stomp behind, “Everybody’s looking for somewhere to go. I just keep moving the only way I know.”