by Nick Hanover
Do you remember your first house show? The buzz of excited conversation from kids double fisting red solo cup beverages, the feel of too many sweaty bodies packed closely together, a perpetually sticky floor? Even if that first memory ends with you puking in some poor host’s closet, I’m betting you cherish it nonetheless. There’s a magical energy to a house show, a feeling that stands out as something different from a proper venue, no matter how grimy it might be. You can’t really recreate that memory outside of that context. Or so I thought before Dead Sally’s Eeep! EP.
Dead Sally are hardened house party veterans and they bring that texture to Eeep!, unleashing a sound that’s rambunctious and frenzied, sloppy and a shambles, untarnished by proper production etiquette or tunefulness. “We say we’re trash/’Cause we have fun” they sing on mid-album anthem “Trash,” and that gets right to the heart of their two defining characteristics, a sticky mess of trash culture (including a glib flip of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” at the start of the EP) and unapologetic pop punk fun. It’s not a calculated aesthetic, it’s just a band raised in the house show environment developing exactly as you’d expect, making music for the sheer bratty hell of it.
This isn’t to say there aren’t surprising elements to Dead Sally, though. “Blow Up the Sun” begins with dusty strings that seem to have wandered in from a romantic interlude in an otherwise depressing modern Western before punk drums and forlorn guitar wander in, setting the stage for Sam Sterling’s snotty, nostalgic vocals and his eventual declaration that he wants to “Blow up the sun,” requesting that we “tell everyone I just gave up.” That’s followed by “Rabid Dog,” an intriguing commingling of bluegrass strings and rhythm and blistering guitar heroics that builds to a rousing singalong chorus.
But Dead Sally’s sweet spot is the grinning fatalism of its final two tracks, where the band’s distinct AJJ influence is clearest, both in terms of the ragged, speed-addled instrumentation and Sterling’s nasally screeches. EP closer “Lightning” in particular lives up to its name, as Sterling channels the Dead Milkmen and tries to cram in as many jokes and asides into each verse as possible and the band pushes the tempo into whiplash-inducing realms. “Trash” is the undisputed highpoint, though, nimbly showcasing all of Dead Sally’s greatest strengths, with nonstop melodic twists and turns, clever lyrics and barbwire laced dancehall strings. It’s a song constructed specifically for turning any house show crowd into a swirling mass of salty flesh and beaming, goofy grins.
Eeep! isn’t a work intended to help you navigate an ascent into adulthood but to reach out for your hand in the depths of that sweaty party crowd and pull you back into immaturity. Maybe one day Dead Sally will grow up but I’m selfishly hoping they continue to stay juvenile and trashy as long as possible, encouraging the rest of us to give in to our brattiest impulses, if only for a weekend or two.
Dead Sally’s EP release show is this Friday, June 23rd at Cheer Up Charlie’s with Matthew Squires, Mom Jeans and more!
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover