Though they seem to have been around for a while, since 2007 or so, it was only a short time ago that I was exposed to the music of San Francisco punk quartet Get Dead, and their brand new full-length album “Bad News” on Fat Wreck Chords. As a big fan of the genre, and now as an equally big fan of this particular band, I can’t help but consider Get Dead a wonderfully lucky find. And with a largely acoustic sound that is decidedly more punk than many of the electric bands out there in the scene today, Get Dead aren’t just the genuine article but actually closer in approach to the progenitors of punk than one might think. If it hadn’t been for some of the more radical folk artists of the ‘50s and ‘60s, like Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and Bob Dylan, punk rock certainly wouldn’t have come about the way that it did. So it’s nice to see that some punk bands are still carrying on the tradition, whether consciously or not, and that on some guitars the words This machine still kills fascists! should still be spelled out in black permanent marker.
That last statement was not to suggest that Get Dead are a political punk or anarcho-punk band. They are not. In this context I am referring more to the sound and instrumentation than the message. One can’t always have both, after all. As far as lyrics are concerned, Get Dead vocalist King’s content is more personal, taken directly from real life experiences, but fictionalized like a Kerouac novel. And if, like me, you are a huge Beat Generation literature enthusiast, you will be stoked to know that Kerouac is part of the subject matter in one of the songs on “Bad News.”
Get Dead’s sound is as rough as the gravel roads in small town America, as sharp as the boxcutter secreted in a hitchhiker’s pocket, as booze-friendly as a whiskey shot and beer chaser lunch, as expressive as the mad bearded poets of the endless highways between here and there, as versatile as an ambidextrous masturbater, and as organic as a chain-smoker’s sticky black lungs. Although the band’s chief instrumentation includes acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums, and of course vocals, the lads brought in friends and fellow musicians from such notable projects as Mariachi El Bronx, Lagwagon, Angry Amputees, and others, to add keys, upright bass, and horns to “Bad News,” thereby making an already outstanding album of incredible material that much better.
The sum of their songs on “Bad News” can be broken down into component parts, from folk-punk and acoustic punk to rock and ska. In fact, these songs by Get Dead can easily garner the band comparisons to such well-known artists as Lucero, Against Me!, Fake Problems, and The Taxpayers, and also to such obscure artists as Fistful of Dynamite, The Future Kings of Nowhere, and Billy Liar…among others. Not a bad lot to be associated with, to be sure.