Adams Dagger - Adams Dagger (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Adams Dagger

Adams Dagger (2010)

Durty Mick

Of all the retro styles bands are aping today and turning into their own, what sound is conspicuously absent in releases of the past few years is that of the early Southern California punk scene. No, not the SoCal hardcore of Black Flag, Uniform Choice or the Circle Jerks, but the quirky, quasi-melodic punk of bands like the Vandals, the Angry Samoans and D.I.. That's what Adams Dagger has masterfully revisited, and it should come as no surprise that they happen to hail from Long Beach, California.

At times amusing and at times disturbing, the most prevailing set of adjectives to describe Adams Dagger's self-titled release would be "delightfully catchy yet unrefined." Not just in their name (an 18th century slang term for "penis") but even more so in their music and lyrics. With simple, melodic basslines and straight-ahead drumming, Adams Dagger doesn't need to soak their approach in allegiance to the past to recall the formative years of California punk.

Whether it's a brutally open acceptance of addiction ("Over and Over") or smirking approval of radical conspiracy theorists ("David Icke Was Right"), it's hard not to cringe through this record. The opening track, in fact, is almost enough to warrant stopping the disc and questioning whether to continue. "My libido's in a rage / Wait til I get off this stage / Gonna whip you and beat you / And lay it on thick tonight / ... / Ain't you just the sweetest thing / Still wearin' your promise ring" declares vocalist Damon on the totally creepy "Bad Man."

The band's morose outlook bleeds through in Vandals-like storytelling on "Here Lies": "Here lies Jim age 49, pretty ordinary guy / ... / One day his heart attacked him / He's pronounced dead on the scene." The ratio of morbidity and sincerity seems to be about 1:1 though, as "End of Suffering" plainly asserts "My spiritual health means much more to me than wealth / To be, or not to be or just be myself." The five-and-a-half-minute closer "The Little Things" would normally be way too long for a punk song, but Adams Dagger pulls it off as it moves from energetic to repetitive and slightly monotonous to a frenzied anthem of paranoia.

It's possible that Elvis Cortez (of Left Alone) who produced the record might have had something to do with the sound captured on AD's self-titled, or it might just be the band doing what they do. Either way, Adams Dagger is an intriguing album for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which is its catchy tunes.