I haven't polled any other reviewers but I'd be willing to bet that over half of them have been in or always wanted to be in a band. I am no exception. I was in a band for almost two years and we played over a dozen shows, recorded an album, and had a great time. The thing about being in a band is that for much of the time the sole reward is simply the fact that you are in a band. The odds of your band making it are astronomical and the bands that do make it are rarely the ones you'd expect to see do so. And yet, all bands share the desire to make music despite those odds.
It is that desire that I admire the most in Dropgun's Devil Music. The album opens this simple statement played backwards and by backwards, I'm not talking about word order. "I sold my soul to rock and roll and to the devil." This made me laugh both at myself-for having taken the time to find out what had been deemed so important as to have been obscured through audio trickery-and at the band-for making such a bold statement and then hiding it. Would Black Sabbath approve of Dropgun? Would the devil? I can't speak for those gentlemen but I get the impression that they wouldn't approve. This may be a case where the band's desire overwhelms their ability. Devil Music just doesn't sound that good. All the songs are kind of midtempo. And they sound like they are in a tin can. Really. But it is a tin can of well intentioned punk rock.
The first song, "Shoot", did everything in its power to offend my love of the cowbell. You almost question whether or not it is a cowbell. I give the band the benefit of the doubt. I don't think it is a stretch to say that a cowbell, though simplistic and the butt of many jokes, is a glorious instrument whose sole purpose is to create a catchy, infectious beat that listeners latch on to. I would go on but-quite frankly-I sound like a dork. All I'm saying is that if you get a cowbell's sound wrong-a single note crying out for rhythmic attention-then you've really got bigger problems.
I often found myself listening to Devil Music and thinking about the band. I was constantly distracted either by a) the production values i.e. cowbell misuse or b) some lyric that just sounded absurd. Now, it could just be my interpretation of what I think the lyrics might be but if I'm kind of close I think you'd agree with me. "Cut Me Off" is one such example. "New York City. Hollywood. I'm getting bitches like you knew I would./ She's got a hangover, always broke, nose candy, no I'm not a dope. Cut me off." Here is the thing about his song. The singer is a guy who gets drunk and hooks up with less than perfect women. Who hasn't? The part that annoys me more than anything is the refusal to take responsibility. He is pleading to the bartender, his friends, anyone in earshot that he needs to stop drinking and making these crazy choices. By the end of the album, I feel like I need to stop drinking or to start calling all of my friends to blame them. But no one was home. I have no doubt that this band probably has some voracious fans but I don't think I could count myself as one of them.