California and Canada come together, kind of, for the latest release from Pop-Punkers, Levi Zardoff and Dead Hendrix. Dead Summer is an ode, or perhaps more accurately a lament to the lost Summer of 2020. Written during and around the height of the pandemic, the album is a collection of stories, impressions, and evaluations. For the most part it’s typical fare for the genre in question, but Levi and Hendrix provide some truly impassioned and cathartic moments. Dead Summer is an EP, consisting of 4 songs and a bonus track
The opening track, “Don’t Think It Could Get Much Better,” is somewhat atypical, albeit with more of an electronically flavored backdrop. Some may hear modern MGK on this one, which is a fair comparison. The title denotes that which is both literal and sarcastic, setting the tone for the theme of the record. “Alone” is rather poignant sounding for a piece that is essentially an exercise in self-pity. This one is definitely intended for a younger audience, and Levi and DH seem to know exactly who their audience is, and will be.
“Can’t Be God” is a bit well cooked for the Pop-Punk genre. It’s a highly modern piece that does some genre blending, and arrives at some decent vocal hooks. It’s also a striking enough, and potentially controversial Title. “Love Game,” immediately brings things back to basics. The guitars and drums get ramped up on this somewhat saucy track, where Zardoff and DH don’t hold their tongue, even a bit. This one is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, as it offers everything that fans of this style expect, and then some.
The aforementioned bonus track, might just be the one that steals the entire album. At first glance, I just assumed that “Teenage Dirtbag,” was a cover of the late 90’s Wheatus hit. What I got after listening, was arguably something more substantial. DH and Zardoff take us on a delightful ride of fist pumping concert rock with their version of “Teenage Dirtbag.” The Travis Barker blast beats serve the piece well, as Levi and DH pour out every remaining emotion for this album closer.
Dead Summer is hollow in terms of quantity, but certainly not in content. Concept albums aren’t standard for Pop-Punk, but Zardoff and DH have seemingly pulled it off with this effort. Zardoff has been quoted as saying that this is the album he has been waiting to make his entire life. Upon listening to Dead Summer, you actually get the feeling that these two are quite capable of achieving much more. As for now, we have the last gasps of a lifeless season to enjoy.
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