Thursday, March 15, 2012

Music Reviews: Dan Vapid & The Cheats - "Dan Vapid & The Cheats"

Dan Vapid has been a big part of the Chicago punk scene for over 20 years. He's been an integral part of the classic Screeching Weasel line-up as well as the frontman for such seminal bands like Sludgeworth, The Riverdales, The Mopes, The Methadones and more recently Noise By Numbers. Now he's back with a new band, Dan Vapid & The Cheats, a new album and a new attitude!

Dan Vapid & The Cheats new self titled album, CD set to hit the streets on May 1, is jam packed with some of the best material Mr. Vapid has ever recorded. And with his track list of legendary material, that's saying something. The album features 15 tracks that range in style from Ramones style pop punk ("What Do You Wanna Do Tonight") to doo wop ("Girl Group") and even some new wave ("Devo On Speed"). This records is an all around party! Vapid has a band that brings out not only the best in his playing, but also his songwriting as well. The group consists of players who have played along side Dan in the past. Mike Byrne (guitar) and Mike Soucy (drums) played with Dan in The Methadones and Simon Lamb (bass) played in a later day versions of both Weasel and the Riverdales, so you just know this is gonna be a great band playing some great punk rock!

Dan sounds more comfortable on this record than on anything else he's done up to this point. And by comfortable I mean he's not afraid to mix styles of songwriting and playing. In a recent interview I did with Dan he said in each band he was in he made an effort not to sound like the band before. But now he's okay being who he is and writing what he feels in his heart saying "If it sounds like a Screeching Weasel song, that's fine. If it sounds like a Riverdales song, that's fine. And if it sounds like a Methadones song, that's fine. I'm just gonna roll with it and realize that the goal is to have as much fun as I can making the best music I can." And he's doing just that.

The album is book ended with what very well could be 2 of the best songs Dan has ever written in the forms of "Torture Chamber" and "It Lives By Night". But to be honest, any of the other 13 tracks could be put up with the best of em. This is the feel GREAT record of 2012. Bravo to Mr. Vapid and his band of Cheats on making not only a great album, but a record that will stand the test of time as one of Vapid's greatest musical accomplishments. A man who has given so much of himself over the last 20+ years has found strength and comfort in being himself and doing what HE wants to do and not what is expected of him. Dan, you've earned it my friend. It's been an honor for me to be along for the ride year after year, album after album, show after show. This is a new chapter. And if the stars stay aligned it will be a long and exciting chapter.

Even though the hard copy of the album won't be available until May, you can hear the album in it's entirety and buy the digital download at the bands Bandcamp page. It's well worth the wait, and the money to have something this fun, exciting and just all around amazing coming from one of our own.

5 / 5 stars

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