Dead City Dregs - Dead City Dregs (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dead City Dregs

Dead City Dregs (2007)


I can't even remember the last good thing to come out of Missouri. Wait, yes I can, they were called MU330 and I've been missing them. But now Dead City Dregs have surfaced with a demo full of infectious punk rock, breathing life back into the quiet streets of St. Louis.

Their self-titled demo is four hard shots of equal parts sloppy pop-punk and street punk, akin to the Lucky Stiffs, the Vacancies, and Rancid, the latter of which is probably the band's biggest influence. Fortunately for them, they've scored airplay on Rancid Radio and it's easy to see why. Unlike too much of today's street punk, Dead City Dregs are clearly more concerned with composing an interesting, enjoyable, and catchy song than focusing on their image and "street credibility" (whatever the fuck that is, anyway). "Weapons" pulls the Rancid leash pretty hard, kicking out a lick ironically almost identical to "Gunshot," but instead speaking of a nuclear-instigated apocalypse: "Play your hand with fate and hope that there's a kingdom come / Annihilation's steady pace there is no separation / It stays its course, obliterates, and shapes a barren wasteland."

The production on the EP is expectedly a little rough and slack, but the Dead City Dregs pull it off well, and it doesn't detract at all from the songs. "Back to the End" is the CD's catchiest track with lyrics that seem derived from the effective simplicity of singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan or Paul Simon: "You're not a criminal until the day you're caught / And you ain't worth a cent until the day you're bought." "End of the Line" seems a little uninspired and cliché both musically and lyrically but remains catchy nonetheless, while "Dead Air" is another that's heavily influenced by Let's Go!-era Rancid with traditional punk inquiries of "what happened to the radio?": "Transmit the frequency there ain't nothing to hear / Drown out the decibels ringing in my ear / The broadcast tower is losing power / The signal's fading but our spirit stays the same."

If Dead City Dregs were located in Echo Park or East Bay, it's quite possible they be scouted by Tim Armstrong, especially given Hellcat's recent Rancid-like signings. As it is though, they're representing St. Louis well, and are a definite sign that the lower Midwest just got a little more tolerable.