Although I’ve only been aware of DeeCracks for the last few years as I’m an ignorant citizen of the UK, it seems crazy that they’ve been around for 20 years or so by this point in time. Keen readers of this blog (apparently there are some of those these days, by all accounts) may recall the last DeeCracks LP being reviewed by my friend and colleague in punk rockery, one Chris “Bundie” Mundie. He hilariously misread the press release and decided the power trio were from Australia rather than their actual home of Austria. I hear the climate is very different. I decided to leave the Australia jokes in as a prank, which some Austrian readers seemed not to realise, even though I’d clearly stated that this was the case. Anyway, in the immortal words of one Shaggy Esq., “seeing is believing so you’d better check your specs”. Or something.
This package, 20 Years: A Frantic Effort, is a triple 10in record. Yes, yes – I hear ya. There’s a load of administrative effort involved in flipping and swapping records, particularly as they are only 10in records. I suppose that you would be right to say this. The 10in format is undeniably a bit awkward, but therein lies the strange charm. At least for me. And here I am doing this.
There’s a bit of a concept at work, here. Although this is a retrospective of sorts, it’s presented in a suitably thoughtful manner. All but two of the 28 songs collected here are “old” songs that the band have selected as their personal (and fan) favourites and re-recorded especially for this package. In all fairness, that could’ve been something of a mammoth task, considering they’ve clocked up 5 studio albums, along with various singles, splits, compilation contributions and a live album. A decent body of work, innit? In this set, they have also included a couple of new ‘uns, too, in the form of Burnt Out and Where We Belong.
But yeah, I got a bit sidetracked. The concept being presented here is a fictional live set. So yeah, a band usually chucks a couple of new tunes into the mix, right? The flipping of sides and changing of records kind of takes the place of mid-set band / audience chat and tuning up. I suspect this isn’t the biggest or brightest idea anyone has ever had in the history of the world or anything, but it does the job for me if I’m honest. I’m well into the idea. Bit of a factoid for you that seems kind of semi-relevant here: DeeCracks apparently formed with the mere intention to play a set of Ramones covers.
If you’d not figured it out, this is within the arena of what a lot of people insist on referring to as “Ramonescore”. I personally prefer the term “Ramones influenced punk rock”, but yeah, that’s kind of unwieldy, innit.
Things are kicked off with one of the aforementioned newies, Burnt Out, and, much like the rest of their material, it’s a straight outta the trap toe-tapping slice of lean yet meaty, rapidfire hook-laden pop punk. It’s a continuing theme, delivered the Eurocentric twist you’d expect of DeeCracks and their contemporaries from the wider European scene such as The Apers, Hakan, The Manges, Lucy & The Rats and so on. Obviously, as it’s DeeCracks there’s no escaping the comparisons to the acerbic veneer brought to the table by the likes of Screeching Weasel, The Queers and The Vapids.
Lyrical themes obviously don’t stray far from the typical Ramonescore (yeah I know, even I can’t be arsed to use my preferred term) wheelhouse of psychiatric treatment, drugs, kicking drugs, fancying girls, getting dumped by girls, hanging out with girls, more psychiatric treatment, and ADHD. With all this relatable content, it obviously proves to be a fair old effort to pick out highlights from a collection as golden as this, given that it’s already a load of hand selected favourites. If pushed, I’ll always say You Messed My Head Up is my absolute favourite, though, along with My Baby Quit Rehab and Strolling the Streets. The new ones definitely show that the usual high standards I’ve become accustomed to with DeeCracks have been maintained here, and slot in comfortably with the classics.
If you are new to DeeCracks, don’t be put off by something that may seem a bit overwhelming: although this thing is 28 songs in length, most of the songs don’t reach the 2 minute mark, with the entire thing clocking in at 51 minutes. It does also serve well as an ideal “jumping on” point. If you’ve been listening to these guys for a while, not only are you getting a couple of new songs, you are also getting career spanning favourites with the kind of rejig that only comes with 20 years in the saddle. It all sounds pretty fresh to these ears, and I love owt like that, me.
Tony of Nurgle rating: 10/10
You can pick this up from the Pirate’s Press Records webstore or from UK distros such as Brassneck Records on a choice of neon yellow and black galaxy vinyl (out of 700) or on clear and black with neon yellow splatter “Insomnia” vinyl (out of 300). The version I got seems to be neither and is a selection of different shades of green with black galaxy. It looks cool though.