Dad Rock, Papa Defeats the Beast (self-released)
ROCK STARS ARE OLDER than they used to be. This is a relatively new phenomenon—George Harrison was almost 21 when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" entered the Billboard Hot 100, and Off the Wall came out when Michael Jackson was only 20 years old. Culturally, it's often assumed that young people are incapable of making "important" art. But rock music has always been the glaring exception: The most vital stuff has and always will be made by young people.
Dad Rock has become one of Portland's token young bands, but overemphasizing their age only detracts from their music. Their debut EP, #1 Dad—released while the band's members were still cadets at Portland's School of Rock—is a collection of intrepid punk songs steeped in the quintessentially Pacific Northwest tradition of off-kilter melody meets under-rehearsed furor.
The group's new record, Papa Defeats the Beast, sees the band enter a sort of metamorphosis, trading #1 Dad's straightforward punk for an appreciation of meandering classic-rock-bestrewn indie, à la Spiritualized, or more recently, Courtney Barnett. Songs like the title track and the presumably apolitical "Bill Clinton Was Right" bear the same psychedelic tint of Jack White's projects, without any of the pretense. "Es Car Go-Go" sees the band flaunt their mathy capabilities—but Dad Rock is at their best playing fast, as evidenced by the one-two punch of "Soft Scrub" and "Surf Song," two tracks that harken back to the starry-eyed scrappiness of #1 Dad while boasting a refined musicality. All in all, Papa Defeats the Beast—while slightly unfocused—is a great release from a great band, regardless of their age. And it's only going to get better.
Dad Rock celebrates the release of Papa Defeats the Beast on Friday, February 19, at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton) for the Music in the Schools February Showcase, with Just Lions, Sabonis, and Kulululu.