Friends of melodic/post-emo-ish punk (and enemies to all title-case-font spellcheckers) deadkaren have released their debut six-songer and it’s pretty damn nice. “Written as happy music for sad kids” is deadkaren’s self-described sound/ethos and that’s pretty apt. Opener “Blah Blah Blah” sets the scene, with its four-on-floor beat and guitars leading in with chunking on a main hook that’s equal parts emo/later SY. On “But You Would” and “Captive” deadkaren hone the above approach in a successfully “straight forward” manner.
The band – singer Caroline Marie, guitarist Mike Easters, bassist Heinrich Kilgore, and drummer Cheo Rodriguez – have enough skills to keep the listener’s attention over the course of the six-songs. Marie in particular reveals herself to be a helluva vocalist, deft at balancing emotional melodicism and roaring punk-fury. “Bradchad” is the most punk and topical of the tunes, with its collaged intro of sexist-misogynist bros, offering crude and lewd invites to the listener. Marie and band shuts them down, retaliating with snarling lyrics (“I’m glad my outfit / made your d*** hard”), continuing to stab into the dudes into the grave with full-force #MeToo-fueled feminism. The band’s songs are too long to be considered “punk” yet still too unconventional to be considered “mainstream,” which makes deadkaren hard to pigeonhole, let alone codify; and when it comes to writing original music, isn’t that the whole damn point?