Channeling NYC’s indie history, feisty little band in Dropper could launch a new generation of DIY legends with their rollicking debut album, ‘Don’t Talk To Me’.
Before the internet, bands became popular in New York City by playing as many gigs as they could. They would do their best to convince the highly critical crowd to buy one of their cassettes, vinyl, and even betamaxes, which were likely recorded in the basement or an abandoned warehouse. Some outfits reached legendary status for their mind-blowing live shows and DIY mentality – Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, and even Blondie and The Ramones started in this way. Following this model but with their own label are Dropper, a quartet who can now go to concerts armed with their debut album, Don’t Talk To Me.
Like many of the Big Apple’s indie founders, Dropper’s music is meant to be heard live, whether that’s in a hidden room behind a Bushwick bar, in the middle of Washington Square, or the gentrified meat-packing district. The appropriately-titled “Two Dollar Beer” gets the album off to a ripping start. It’s both dreamy and rollicking, as front-woman Andrea Scanniello’s lush vocals floats over searing guitars and chugging rhythms. All she wants is an after-work drink to drown her sorrows in, but instead she finds herself in the middle a confrontation. This sounds like NYC circa 1982.
The band amp the energy with the bombastic “Don’t Worry”. Jerky guitars, fiddling keys, and bouncy rhythms highlight the song’s mania. Through her swooning vocal, however, Scanniello describes how her life has been an endless hangover with an unrelenting anxiety hanging over her.
“Spent four years with your glass in my teeth
Spent four years feeling half asleep
Trying to make the pieces fit
I always want what’s no good for me”
This constant struggle to find an equilibrium is the album’s central theme. Some of this is caused by her dependency in other people, as she describes on the playful, head-swaying, “Memoirs of Working in a Bowling Alley”. Even when Scanniello says she’s “Ok Ok Ok” or “Better”, she’s still battling. As a great bass line drives the former and is accented by some boisterous guitar moments, Scanniello shares how her anxiety intensifies after running into an unexpected associate. “Every time you see my face / I love to rain on your parade / Letting you know I’m ok”, she sings out loud, trying to convince every0ne, including herself, she’s all right.
While on “Better”, she admits that the days are long. “Maybe I’m too tired to pretend I care as much as you / Maybe I am too afraid to see the way that you do”, Scanniello sings through a dreary, languid melody. Her mind is clouded in darkness and uncertainty, but when can she start feeling better is an unsolved mystery.
Scanniello reveals that her own indiscretions also have contributed to her situation. On the slow-building rocker, “Signal”, she makes several assertions, including, “I cannot do any more bad drugs” and “I can’t sustain the choices I’ve made”. On the grizzled, ’70s-inspired rocker, “Drive Thru Jesus“, which features some great guitar work, Scanniello tackles the “false idols” and the concept of faith that hold her and others down. “Won’t be a disciple of your bullshit”, she calmly proclaims, freeing herself of the guilt showered on her by male zealots.
On the bar-room southern rocker “Waste of Time”, which opens with a spunky key arrangement and builds to a groovy finish, she begins to understand the puzzle of her life and what is needed to take the next step.
“I’m sorry to my dad and mom
They worked so hard said get a job
But the van’s got three hundred thousand miles
So I’ll be sleeping on strangers couches for a while
I’ve lived so many lives in so little time
I feel like I am losing my mind
Is this what it means to be living the dream”
But maybe the dream still lives. Should New Yorkers and the rest of the world embrace Andrea Scanniello, Larry Scanniello, Yukary Morishima, and Jono Bernstein like Yo La Tengo, it’s possible this feisty little band could launch a new generation of DIY legends.
Don’t Talk to Me is out on the band’s own Dirt Dog Records and available on Bandcamp.
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