A white hot microcosm of chaos and discord washes over us in the opening bars of “Let’s Get It Right,” one of the prime pieces of sonic wonderment to be experienced in The Danbees’ latest EP The Veggie Tapes, and the only thing listeners can do to brace themselves for the impact of the violent smack of drums and bass that is about to hit them with full force is to give in to the gravity of guitarist Mark Slotoroff’s unabashed riffage. As a lifelong rocker, records like The Veggie Tapes have been a big part of what has kept me interested in loud music.
This EP isn’t particularly in depth lyrically nor inventive musically, but it has one thing that most other records released in 2018 don’t; it has heart, soul and a whole lot of volume. The Veggie Tapes feels like a collection of B-sides, but the compositions are still much tighter than the output The Danbees have shared with us to date. I don’t know whether they’re finally being themselves or if they’re just now reaching their creative fever pitch, but the difference in the group’s nimbleness between this record and their rookie album Fishnets Anonymous is hard to ignore if you’re a music enthusiast.
Drummer Wade McManus puts on a clinic in The Veggie Tapes and often outperforms his co-stars in the six tracks it includes, and I think that this record proves that his cerebral beats have always been the bread and butter of the band’s sound. Slotoroff, lead guitarist Shane Matthews and bassist Sam Enright pull their own weight, but the magic in these songs is completely focused around McManus, who plays like his life depends on it in “Down at the Bar,” “Fell Off” and the calculated “Here I Am With My Back on the Wall.”
“Down at the Bar,” the first single from The Veggie Tapes, is awesome and provides us with a power hit that The Danbees have become rather notorious for generating, but I actually don’t think that it’s the best song on the EP at all. That honor goes to “Going Down,” a warhorse of a ballad that is driven by a vacuum-style mix that seems to pull all of us into its riptide of noise juxtaposed with brilliant harmony. If I had to pick a song to encapsulate the persona of The Danbees above all others, this would easily be the one I’d choose.
The Danbees aren’t done growing up, and the crude stop-start dynamic utilized in even the sweetest moments The Veggie Tapes brings to the table proves it, but I don’t think this EP is worth skipping at all. For the short amount of time that they’ve actually been a touring and recording unit, The Danbees have made a lot of intellectual and creative progress, and just because they haven’t reached the Super Bowl yet doesn’t mean they’re not becoming genuine playoff contenders. The Veggie Tapes is a sterling stepping stone for these guys, and as a true blue rock fan I don’t regret picking up my copy in the slightest.