Punk Rock is one of music’s most unstable genres. In its purest form it felt cathartic and primal. It was unvarnished anger distilled into minimal instrumentation and chord changes that were then sent full throttle into a BPM range that passed 150 and never looked back. But Punk’s curse was that after its first crop of bands scared the shit out of squares everywhere, it spoiled on the shelf and became an almost instant reinvention of the wheel. A good indicator that this shift had occurred was when the same “punk” wardrobe items and accessories that brought down both the wrath of police and beatdowns at the hands of jocks now graced the display windows of malls across Nebraska.
With cover art that embraces the aesthetics of early-’80s Nardcore rather than the day-glos of Blink 182 and The Offspring, Dave Dub and JtheSarge’s Mind Police is a throwback to the days when The Brat Pack ruled at the box office and Reagan had his finger on the button.
So the next question that needs to be asked is do we really need more music like this? If the only thing Mind Police does is make a kid appreciate that muddy four-track-in the-garage production values makes a lot of music sound better, it wasn’t made in vain.
With both Dave Dub and JtheSarge established in the Hip Hop, this project avoids being “Rap-Rock” in a way that’s embarrassed both genres over the last decade. While Freestyle Fellowship‘s Myka 9 and Project Blowed affiliate Medusa check in, this is still a Punk project at its core; the band’s interest in Hip Hop is apparent right there in some of the music’s breakdowns and lyrical delivery. Songs like “Freak,” Casualty” and “No Name” incorporate more layered melodies into the mix and make good use of Dave Dub’s Willie D-meets-Tim Armstrong vocals. These tracks offset the other half of the album’s songs (“Robo Christ,” “Hitler’s Brain,” etc.) that try too hard to be from another time and place and end up sounding self-conscious and dated.
So if we put Dave Dub and The Sutter Cain Gang in a time machine and sent them back 25 years, their songwriting chops would probably land them in the tier of double-time bands opening for Suicidal Tendencies in Mike Muir’s garage. But this isn’t the ’80s, its 2011 and certain sounds that were for so long formulaic to a fault actually start to feel formulaic in a good way after fewer and fewer kids decide to carry the torch.
This is raw what-you-see-is-what-you-get music that probably packs the same punch live. And if it has kids spitting teeth into bathroom sinks after a circle pit at the local VFW…it has done its job.