REAL(s) – D.S.L.B.

Music As Insurgent Art; Distributed by Dirty Water Records.
November 3, 2020

From their debut album, D.S.L.B., REAL(s) delivers a crisp, clean sound while still maintaining a punk edge for the impending apocalypse. Clocking in at 40-minutes and some change, this is an album that is worth the listen.

While investigating this band, their online presence seems more like a fever dream. Their YouTube channel, with snippets of their songs sprinkled on top of videos that include emergency broadcast messages, the band members talking, and weird effects. REAL(s) seems like more of an art exhibition that you can mosh to than just a band on Bandcamp.

‘Sleazer’ is a great opening track. From the chaos to the emotion, it hits hard. At first, it seems like this album is gonna be pretty heavy if this song is anything to go by. Unfortunately, it’s not that hard of an album, all things considered. The drums are top notch, delivering some pretty harsh blows to your ears.

‘Stop Freaking Out’ is a fun second track. I love the very catchy choruses that repeat, “stop freaking out, stop freaking out, stop freaking out,” which just makes it feel like the live version of this song would be fun to experience. Who doesn’t like singing along at a concert?

The third track, ‘Wilhelm Scream’ marks the beginning of the album mellowing out. This track reminds me of a David Bowie song, between the singing and song structure. It’s probably my least favorite track on the album, to be honest. It just doesn’t grab me the way the other songs did.

‘Up the Slopes,’ the fourth track, takes you by surprise, bringing in a synth and horn section at the end, making a fun pop rock song. The arrangement of the instruments is really well done, as well as being an outlier track on this album. It’s pretty unique in between these other songs.

Following ‘Up the Slopes’ is ‘From the Seed,’ beginning with a very high pitched lead guitar screeching into your ear. It’s a slower song, but with passion behind it. It sounds Husker Du inspired, but that may just be me, I’ve been listening to a lot of Husker Du.

‘Dark Web Messiah’ shows the full effect of their artistic ideas, providing an echoed voice that is merely a backdrop for feedback, a constant guitar playing what seems like the same note over and over, drums playing a simple beat and a bass being played until the staggering end.

The album’s lead single, ‘Radiation’ takes the album back to its punk roots. I can see why they chose this song to be their single. The lead guitar on this track is probably my favourite on the album. It’s simple, but sounds so good. A horn section sneaks in during the interlude of the song, which really makes it. I enjoy that the choruses are just the band losing their collective shit, building up the instruments, as well as their voices, screaming out, “Radiation!”

The eighth track, ‘Rausch,’ is my favorite track. Starting with a heavy bass line, it turns into a jam with great vocals. If ‘Radiation’ is their first single, ‘Rausch’ should be considered to be the second single off of this album. This song just makes you want to get up and dance. If you’re going to listen to one song on this album, make it this one. It’s just so good.

‘Heaven’ comes next, and while it’s a fine song, it’s just that – fine. I don’t think anything from this song stands out like the other songs. It’s short enough to where it doesn’t overstay its welcome, which I appreciated, but it’s nothing to really write home about.

‘M.I.C. Blasters’ rips. From the vocals to the basslines, this song just gives it all. As is the case with many of the songs on this album, the bass is impeccable. Gabi Garbutt, the bassist, has some really groovy and fun basslines on this album and ‘M.I.C. Blasters’ really shows off just how talented she is. The vocals are good as well, changing from high pitched to low tones.

The final song ‘For All Eternity’ is an okay ending for this album, but it’s certainly not my favorite song on the album. It’s a bit long for what they did in the song. It has a monotonous rhythm and is kind of boring in comparison to the other songs.

Overall, this album is pretty good. Personally, I was focused on the bass throughout the entirety of the album. The bass and the surprise horn sections scattered throughout are honestly some of the best parts of the album. But I’m a sucker for a fun horn section.

REAL(s) is a bit more than meets the eye. They are more than a band. D.S.L.B. isn’t just the name of their album, it’s an art collective. There’s something about that, that’s very appealing to me. If you’re just into the music, fair enough, but I think if you’re going to get to the centre of who REAL(s) are, you have to put in some legwork and look past the music.

Whatever their deal is, it’s pretty good. Give REAL(s) a listen.

-Ryan Curtiss