Dead End Friends: Something For The Kids

Paul Whyte

There are bands where what they’re going for immediately stands out and they stick to a sound and own it. While there are the somewhat undefinable elements such as punk and alternative rock that emerge in Dead End Friends’ debut album, “Something For The Kids,” it’s really just best to say that they hit the nail on head with making a solid rock album.
There’s nothing wrong with using some studio tricks and going all out on production to make something sound cool. I will note that this album is a little dry production wise, but I can’t say that this is a bad thing this time around. Dead End Friends just dove in head first on this album and made it all about the rock. This album is held up on approachable and well done song writing with plenty of juicy riffage throughout.
They’re not trying to be something they’re not on this album that ends up being a decently fun listen. It’s the kind of album you might want to put on while disembarking on a road trip. One of the opening tracks, “Radio Poison,” comes out hard driving, mostly upbeat with plenty of energy. While it has all of this, it’s not heavy in the way that if you played it around your dad he’d say, “can we turn this noisy shit off and listen to something else?” Yes, it’s a fine line in accessibility between coming off as being catchy in a way where something ends up feeling kind of like contrived pop-rock or it is so in your face where a band’s primary audience is going to consist mostly of people who have hit a mosh pit in the last few years.
The album crunches well in the spots where it should. For example, the song “Cage” stays pretty heavy with a slick riff that leads into brisk distorted palm muted guitar parts throughout the verse, but as it leads into the chorus, the hook shines through shamelessly. The break downs are effective in affirming to the listener, this is rock being done right. The guitar leads keep things interesting along these lines and they fit the songs in a way where they’re melodically inventive without going over the top technically. Phil McLoughlin and Joey Warttman do the guitar work for the band and I’m unsure who is doing what on the album, but it’s fair to say that the way the guitars work together really makes for a nice journey between the ears.
The rest of the band includes Ben Anderson on bass and Pete Hannegraf on drums and they hold things down while at the same time complete the intricacies that rise up throughout the album. The song, “11:54,” really shows this. This amped up blues/rock song breaks down in parts where all elements of the band come out of the woodwork. The song pretty much defines dynamics in rock music. I’m assuming that McLoughlin is the lead singer of the group. On this track his vocals remind me a little bit of The Damned’s, Dave Vanian. This particular track has some darker themes in the lyrics kind of like The Damned or Black Sabbath. I’m not really going to focus on the lyrics too much other than to say that they’re cool enough where they just flow right along with everything else going on with each song.
On the band’s Facebook site they say that they are influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and The Black Keys and I can see that. I’m never too excited to compare bands to other bands but Queens of the Stone Age also comes to mind. I’d imagine that anyone who likes these bands will find Dead End Friends acceptable to listen to. Of course, I think this album can stand on its own as far as being a great rock album in general to come out of the area.
The band has been playing shows regularly around the Twin Ports and if their album is anything to go off of, their live show will be worth checking out. Their next show is at Dubh Linn Pub on Thursday, August 21 at 10 p.m. Keep an eye out and prepare for some rocking.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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