Dear Landlord - Dream Homes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dear Landlord

Dream Homes (2009)

No Idea

Punknews sure was stoked when Dear Landlord announced the release of their debut Dream Homes; almost every news story was littered with off-topic, bearded and/or drunken comments drooling over the band's infectious choruses and their three proverbial, punk rock chords. In the words of my conscious colleague Brian Shultz: "You'd think 24 Hour Revenge Therapy just dropped." The hype really isn't warranted and could serve only to ultimately fuck Dear Landlord over like it did to the exclamatory Floridians (and once No Idea band) Against Me!. When looking at Dream Homes rationally, you have an incredibly engaging listen that wears Crimpshrine and Screeching Weasel influences proudly on its sleeves.

Without delving in too much of a back-story, Dear Landlord and I squeezed ourselves into the same un-finished basement late last year. I hadn't heard much besides their pedigree -- Rivethead and the Copyrights -- so I decided to pick up their splits with Off with Their Heads and Chinese Telephones, their only releases prior to Dream Homes; the musical breaks in "Three to the Beach" and the harmonies in "High Fives" would constantly run through my head. So after a riveting live performance, you could say I went into this record with some hefty expectations. But as expected, Dear Landlord's Dream Homes doesn't disappoint. That alliteration ruled. This record is 14 tracks of melancholy disguised as fun, upbeat numbers that beg to be sung along to. But frankly, that's all it is. I can't quite feel the emotion as hard as I could like with Off with Their Heads' self-deprecating masterpiece, From the Bottom, but the band makes up for this with just some of the most memorable melodies you'll hear all year; "Bong"'s verses and "Landlocked"'s hook are certainly some of the more immediately grabbing moments of 2009. It's also a nice addition that they reworked my two favorites from the aforementioned splits.

Right out of the box, Dear Landlord hits you with "I Live in Hell," utilizing the band's many vocalists and their anthemic qualities, rhetorically asking: "What does your dream home look like?" It hits a certain memory of seeing the four of them, ducking to avoid hitting their heads on the ceiling lined with piping, and the energy that was brought that night. It's safe to say that the energy exerted is just as powerful on Dream Homes as it was live.

Paying close attention to location, Dear Landlord seem to find a comfortable common ground between Berkeley and Chicago. "Landlocked" sounds straight Ben Weasel with his endearing nasal, while if you replace "do you still hate me?" in place of "goodbye to Oakland" in the song of the same, it would work just the same. Despite having some of those obvious influences and all the members being in established bands, Dear Landlord's identity lies in their unique and rousing approach to vocals. "Last Time I Checked" is their best performance with trade-off shouts and some great harmonies topped off with gang vocals.

After a decent anticipation, I'm quite happy with the product. It really isn't worth the hype in the long run considering its simplicity and sometimes lazy attempt at lyrics, but Dream Homes sucks the listener on first spin with catchiness and fun, making it a shoo-in to my Top 10 of 2009.