Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Drakulas trade in their punk rock roots for new wave sheen.

Photo by Jon Weiner from the band's Facebook page

Drakulas list Austin as their hometown, but I’d argue the beating heart of the band got its start in Denton. I spent some time in Denton as a kid—one of my uncles lived there for a spell—but at the time my pre-teen brain had no clue the town would become a musical hotbed. Then again, Texas may not quite be the alien landscape I knew as a kid, but it is still certainly conducive to creating pockets of musical resistance to the mainstream. 

I say this because the voice of Drakulas is Mike Wiebe of Riverboat Gamblers, born and bred in Denton, TX. The Gamblers' run of albums from 2001 through 2006 was both solid in approach and stunning as far as showing growth, before starting to bend more towards commercial wills than the frantic weirdness that sparked their earlier output. But their live shows we're always absolute fire. Just *chef's kiss* so much fun.

When I heard of Wiebe's involvement in Drakulas I was cautiously excited—I missed his voice but wasn't sure if a project steeped in new wave roots would be the right fit. But really, all Darkulas does is take its members' punk rock pasts—the band also features another Gambler and a member of Rise Against—find the melodic mindset that connects them all, and then send it through the New-Wave-O-Matic to churn out sharp little glistening cubes of pop stippled with bootprints and mud. You can add gloss to the rock, but you can't remove the grit at the core that helps everything stick together. And what you're left with is Terminal Amusements. Thank god!

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