Dead Finks The Death and Resurrection of Johnathan Cowboy LP

This album is a chameleon unstuck in time. Every time you look at it, it seems to be on a different plane, in a different form. This is all to say that DEAD FINKS continue a welcome tradition of breaking down and rebuilding what actually constitutes music being “punk.” The results of their experimentation takes familiar-enough roads of driving elastic rhythms and ringing guitars to arrive at destinations wholly fresh and new. Tracks like “Reanimation” lock into the head-bobbing groove of contemporaries such as PARQUET COURTS or even more psych-leaning bands such as WAND, but vocally and lyrically stand out as more impassioned and a good deal more present. The duo, Joseph Thomas and Erin Violet, really sound like they give a damn while coming across as no less cool than more detached present-day punk tinkerers. That’s probably what drives the whole project home for me, a wild-eyed emotionality that offsets the mastery of aesthetics and headiness. It’s no wonder, then, that the band finishes with a cover of the FALL’s “Frightened,” reportedly recorded on the eve of Mark E. Smith’s death. DEAD FINKS’ version is a beautiful closer that couldn’t possibly outshine the original but comes damned close.