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Album Review: Bundles – “Deaf Dogs”

Alright, I’m in a rare corner here. I get to review a band I’ve never heard of, like, ever— from across the country on the recommendation of a fellow Dying Scene writer (shoutout to my better, Jason Stone). The band is Bundles and the album is Deaf Dogs. Well, what does that mean to me? It means I have to put some words together.

Bundles is from Boston and as far as I can tell, Deaf Dogs is their debut album. And from a couple listens and onward, it’s a good one. What does it sound like? Muscular melodic punk from guys who probably dig Avail and the Gaslight Anthem, but probably more on the Avail side. Throat-shredding. Heartfelt. A little on the simple side when it comes to arrangements, driven mostly by bass heavy chugging and shoutalong choruses. I got a distinct street punk vibe here, there’s a certain shared spirit at work, but to be fair, they have about the same connection to a band like Arms Aloft too. Whether you see this as an extension of the working class anthems of street punk or an extension of the working class anthems of melodic punk, just know it’s music you could have a beer with.

The album opens with “Lorem Ipsum,” which stomps out of the stereo with a big verse hook that leads into an even bigger chorus hook. The vocals sound like they’ve been passed through a cheese grater, in the best possible way. In fact, this is where Bundles simple arrangements really benefit themselves. This is punk rock played like punk rock— it’s not reaching to push the boundaries of the genre or aiming for anything loftier than delivering good songs played with passion. With this creed in mind, rhythm, melody, and vocal performance step to the center stage.

Short is another key word for Bundles. Deaf Dogs is full of gloriously short songs. A good amount of the track list doesn’t pass the three minute mark, and a fair amount don’t push two. “TKC” uses its short run time for a raw and ragged singalong that almost reaches into hardcore territory, while, “The Dornishman’s Wife,” the longest song on the album at a whopping three minutes and twenty-eight seconds, slows the tempo but never loses the edge.

“Robots of the Uncanny Valley” is a stand out track that almost feels like an unhinged grunge tune before the whole scene shook off their punk influences to claim rock band status. It’s garage rock in its essence, the sound of people playing the sort of rock ‘n roll they idolize in their mind’s eyes. Inevitably, it comes out as loud and guitar-heavy, with plenty of opportunities for the crowd to singalong. “The State of Seattle” is the number two of the one-two punch, the next sequential track and another highlight of Deaf Dogs that flies by in under two minutes. The pendulum swings both ways though, and if I had to deliver a criticism of Deaf Dogs, it’d be one that a lot of albums like this attract— back to basics rock ‘n roll can only get you so far. Even with a good handful of great songs, a lot of them go by so quickly they’re hard to distinguish. For the most part though, the album survives the sameness sag, with songs like “Oh, Brazil,” and “The Glow” maintaining interest in the latter half.

Deaf Dogs is a strong album, the kind you won’t mind raising a beer and a fist to on any given night. It’s loud, personable, and defiantly minimalist. It’s back to basics punk rock by people who think that rock music should rock.


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