by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor –
Screaming out of Hollywood is a new Rock band called Beat the Drag. Their debut full-length, What’s Your Damage, is chock-a-block full of snarky lyrics, biting social commentary, tales of drunken abandon, and good ol’ fashioned tainted love and loss. It’s pretty damn funny too …
The title track kicks things off. This is noisy Hard Rock, and singer/guitarist Trev has an omnipresent sneer to his vocals. In their bio, they compare themselves to bands like Fu Manchu, the Hellacopters and Backyard Babies. This has a bit of a Punk vibe to it, and when you hear lyrics like “You’d watch your neighbor’s mansion burning, and complain about the fucking smoke,” the attitude just drips venom. Great intro to the band.
“Split-Second Smile” is their second single off the new album. There’s a real sing-song aspect to this track, especially during the chorus, and there’s some heavy, slow riffing after the choruses. The interesting component here is that Trev sings with a kind of uplifting tone, but the song itself is about those “woe is me” purposefully self-destructive and depressed peeps who can’t get out of their own heads. “Your self-abuse is legend; at least you hope it will be.” There’s a nice slap to the teeth.
Off to the races they go on “Heroine.” This is a manic, Punk ripper that is like if Social Distortion needed more distortion. Again, this is not a feel-good song. “I’d kill myself just to be with you for a night … or will you kill yourself alone?” asks the chorus. Fun with fun!
Relationship songs are always a kick, especially when they are as caustic as “Insignificant Other.” The riff on this track is complicated, melodic, and just kick ass. As Trev lays out the reason while this relationship is nothing but poison, he sings “If it looks like shit and it smells like shit, you shouldn’t roll around in it.” Everyone has probably been involved in relationship hell at one time or another, and this is the universal anthem for it.
The first single off of What’s Your Damage was “Mistakes Were Made.” That’s like a politician “admitting” to letting lobbyists buy his/her vote and saying “Yes, mistakes have existed during my time on this earth at one point or another.” It’s a hilarious, catchy, cool song, with bits of lyrical wisdom like “And the secret of my no success is to live in blissful mediocrity.” Trev’s solo here is one of the most musical on the release; where he can sometimes blaze away, this one carries a ton of melody.
The best overall track is “Penny Black.” It’s got a danceable groove, killer leads, and the most memorable chorus on the entire release. The gang vocals on the chorus just make you want to bang your head and yell along with the band. As always, the lyrics tell a gritty story, with lines like “Those girls all look the same to me. Same whore, just different diseases now.” The protagonist of this song should not be on Match.com.
The bonus track if you buy the CD is “The Best Nights.” This probably comes in second to “Penny Black.” Drinking songs, like Def Leppard’s “Wasted,” can stay with you for decades and never get old. This is one of those songs. It’s again a dirty, noisy track, with gems like “I’m all for settling, just not down,” and “I can’t say you won’t be forgotten, but if you are, you can’t be a regret.” This song also owns one of the best guitar solos on the entire album. Plus, why wouldn’t you end an album with a line like “The best nights are the ones you forget in the morning.”
Beat the Drag is a refreshing take on what Hard Rock is today. And why is that? They don’t take themselves seriously. They are in it to entertain you. That’s what music SHOULD do, and What’s Your Damage does it in spades.
Genre: Hard Rock
Trev-guitars and vocals
1. What’s Your Damage?
2. Coming Down Forever
3. Split-Second Smile
5. The Wasteland
6. Insignificant Other
7. Mistakes Were Made
10. Penny Black
11. The Best Nights
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.1/10