I never gave myself the opportunity to write my praises for Dan Vapid and the Cheats’ first album, but since my sparkly new copy of “Two” arrived in the mail, both albums have been on heavy rotation.
I hate using the word “scene,” but within the punk and pop-punk genres, Vapid is known for his contributions to Screeching Weasel, The Methadones, The Mopes, a stint with the Queers, and my personal favorite–The Riverdales. I have always been a fan of the Vapid-written tunes, so when I heard about the formation of the Cheats, I was expecting exactly where the Riverdales could have left off after Tarantula. In fact, what I noticed was brief strains of Riverdales with a whole new personality. With songs like “Girl Group” and “Ooh-La-La,” I fell in love with the less punk/more pop approach that musicians like Kurt Baker are doing nowadays. The guitars still chug and lyrically there is a maturity in the songwriting.
Now, with “Two” I approached this record with that feeling I get with every band’s second offering. Am I going to like it? And more importantly, am I going to find myself comparing it to the first album and wondering what they could have done to make it better or similar to the first?
I gave it a good, hard, honest listen. Nothing stuck at first, of course I was hearing these songs for the first time. Then I slept on it, literally because I listened to it while I worked before I hit the sack. The next morning, I had “Miracle Drug” stuck in my head. Hey, if a song can do that to me after a couple listens, you have won me over completely. I’ve had a few of the other catchy tracks take over my mind the last few days, but as a package, I enjoy the album as one long track. Dan Vapid has an sense of writing style that impresses me and always has. It amazes me to create infectious tunes while keeping a sense of reality when you’re predecessors and influences sang about beating on brats with baseball bats or Ursula’s new front-end endowment. Brilliant in their own right, of course, but this breathes in a breath of fresh air to the punk genre and sub-genres.