by Nathan Cardiff

The only Lawrence doo-wop rockers (or at least the youngest) that I’ve ever heard, Dean Monkey & The Dropouts, have put their hearts and souls into the excellent new EP Dean’s Steak House. I’m more than positive that a few of the songs may be tongue in cheek, but I’m ignoring that. Dean Monkey & The Dropouts are excellent musicians with a charming (some would say ironic) schtick, but when it comes right down to it, they rule.

The group has a ton of talent and it flourishes on Steak House. The opening track is a ballad/origin story with a bluesy piano and wicked guitars. “He’s a bourbon drinking, ego-shrinking, modern patriot/He took the liberty from the bell, cause he couldn’t handle that shit” is one of the best lyrics of the year and “Dean’s Theme” is rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. The vocals are impeccable; the range these Dropouts show cannot be measured. With “Leaving You Behind,” the female vocals lead the way on this lo-fi, warped-pop song about what might be the worst relationship ever. The lyrics go from the small annoyances (“you drank my whiskey”) to the unforgivable (“you killed my cat”), all building up to the self-affirming “I’m feeling so good, cause I am leaving you behind.” A great pop song about a nightmarish situation with a happy conclusion.

Half-way through Dean’s Steak House we hear the funky “Last Time,” which seems like a counter part to “Leaving You Behind.” A slow-burn track with a lot of soul and romance as it begs for forgiveness. The vocals get even stronger as they wail with the lead guitar. A dynamite song that has you rooting for our sorry narrator. And after this gut-wrenching track, we get “Love Load.” Just typing the title “Love Load” makes me blush. Dear readers I’ll let you experience this song yourself, but I will say it is sleazy, fun, and witty. It’s a cleverly demented love song and I’ll leave it at that.

The EP ends with the incredible “Glad You Are Gone,” a breezy tune that leaves me repeating myself; the vocalists are unbelievable. Whatever Dean Monkey & The Dropouts are trying to accomplish (ironically or sincerely), no one can deny they are talented. Dean’s Steak House is a great record; it’s funny and lovely (and a little bizarre), retro-pop with a smirk. Best of all, it’s an album that has a lot of honest moments even when the band seems to be winking at the listener.

Favorite Tracks: “Last Time” and “Glad You Are Gone”

by Nathan Cardiff

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