Dan Vapid and The Cheats – ‘Two’

By James Brown

Effective punk-rock is often short and sweet, and that’s exactly what we find on Dan Vapid and The Cheats’ second album. The imaginatively-titled ‘Two’, sees the former Screeching Weasel guitar and bass player (depending on the year) front twelve poppy and inoffensive tracks (all for a reasonable price).

With most tracks clocking in under two minutes you’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘Two’ is a rushed and brash release, but that’s far from the truth. ‘Miracle Drug’ and ‘Cold And Rainy Days’ are brilliantly accessible pop rock numbers that leave you wanting more. They’re complimented well by Vapid’s radio-friendly vocals and the squeaky clean production, and you then have the quicker ‘Live It Down’ and ‘I Wanna Go To Machu Picchu’ – but even these have their fair share of pop sensibilities.

Perhaps this won’t surprise anyone who has heard Dan Vapid’s previous material in The Riverdales and The Methadones as whilst both bands were routed in punk they were easy on the ear and always sat well on tours with bands that sound like Dookie-era Green Day. Many of the vocal melodies and deliveries on this album are going to please anyone who’s still longing for Billy Joe and friends to wind the clock back.

The final track, though, is a surprise. ‘A Long Way’ is an excellent take on 50’s rock n roll with its measured structure and crooner-like vocals, and you could easily imagine this being the soundtrack to a poignant moment of an 80’s teen movie – which is certainly a good thing as far as we’re concerned. Lyrically there’s room for improvement, but to be honest the simple approach makes for a very care free listen. Attempting to cram too much into such short tracks would have been a massive mistake. We take a bet that even if you turn this album on expecting to be underwhelmed, you’ll subsequently come away with one of your favourite albums of 2013 so far. Bravo.

TOM BECK

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