The Dreadnoughts - Polka's Not Dead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Dreadnoughts

Polka's Not Dead (2010)


Is polka dead? Probably, if the Recording Academy's recent scrapping of Best Polka Album Grammy Award is any indication. Do the Dreadnoughts care? Probably not. They don't seem like the type of band to be knocking at the door of any Grammy nominations, plus they get to allude to the classic slogan/overrated album of the Exploited (although, to really draw the parallel, the Dreadnoughts should have foregone the apostrophe and went with Polkas Not Dead).

It would be hard to go without mentioning Gogol Bordello in a review of Polka's Not Dead, but that's not to say it's any kind of carbon copy of NYC's gypsy punk underdogs. Still, when you combine the frenzied snare-kick onslaught of punk rock rhythms with accordions and violins in the years after Eugene Hutz and company staked their claim, avoiding comparisons is futile.

However, the Dreadnoughts push forward in other directions with an audacity that's both admirable and effective. The two-minute a capella sea shanty "Randy Dandy-Oh" fears no dead disc space, while its successor, the instrumental "Goblin Humppa" swirls like the opening sequence of Beetlejuice on amphetamine.

There are dashes of Celtic punk influences throughout, too, like on the rowdy romp "Turbo Island" (which suggests to "drink like lunatics") and mandolin-inflused "Gintlemen's Club." "Clavdia's Waltz" combines the standard ¾ time signature of the classical waltz with a heavy instrumental rock section, while the scraping upstrokes of "Sleep is for the Weak" morph into a driving punk anthem.

Whether or not polka is dead to the music-consuming populace is of little concern to the Dreadnoughts, who whip together a furious frenzy of traditional Eastern European music and punk rock energy. It won't be winning them a Grammy, but it will certainly show that at least to them, Polka's Not Dead.