Birthday Cake For Breakfast - B-Side Review
By NATE HOLDREN
Like all well-developed genres, punk has subcategories. “Simply Dead” is definitely not a pop punk record. There aren’t really hooks in a pop sense of the term. And it is catchy in that it takes hold of you, it does something to you and you notice it and want it to keep going. Maybe this is hardcore? That’s definitely a better fit than pop punk. A lot of hardcore feels hurried though, in a rush, and is played very fast. Sometimes you might have trouble keeping up with it. “Simply Dead” is high energy and relatively fast, but it’s not in a hurry. It’s giving everything the time that it deserves. The band stretches out a little, not afraid to give a bad ass riff the repetition it deserves. I haven't been able to test this theory but I am sure this is an awesome record for driving fast with the windows down.
I won’t argue with the band, they say “noise punks” so noise punks they are. Personally though I would call this straightforwardly punk, no qualifying adjectives. That is not to say it’s generic, far from it - this is a distinct record. It is instead to say that this record is in the center of the genre or what the genre should be; other punk bands are playing stuff that’s a departure from this style, and let’s be honest, most of those departures are not improvements. In terms of sound, the other bands I would compare this to are all old midwest - i.e., high quality - punk bands: Pegboy, Naked Raygun, early Husker Du, Big Black, specifically those bands at their fastest, most anthemic and angriest.
I think the particular thing this record does above all is energize. It’s not sugary - too dark, and the hit lasts too long. I guess it’s a big thermos of coffee, bitter and it burns a little. It keeps you awake and focused. The way it energizes is largely through pounding. This may be a cliche at this point, but this kind of punk is all rhythm. One drummer, one bassist, one guitarist, one vocalist, and all four are percussionists. The record sounds like it was recorded real loud. If you turned it up to match that sense of loudness, you would physically feel the sheer force of the air striking you over and over, pushing you into motion. The beats all four Dead Arms are banging out and the volume they’re playing at all make it hard to sit still. Heads will nod, toes will tap, you won’t want to sit down.
Don’t take my word for it - try it. Try to listen to "Simply Dead" while keeping your body absolutely still: you can’t. Because Dead Arms will overpower you, push you onto the dance floor and just maybe right out
the door into the street, and you will want to go along with it, because “Simply Dead” is one of the best punk records.