Dinny Bulca comes to us via Milwaukee, and they have a hell of an album for you. Ladies and Gentlemen has something for everybody, including plenty of ups and downs that will keep you guessing. One thing this album is not is predictable.
The band seems to effortlessly jump between genres, one minute bringing the punk energy of Black Flag and the next sounding a bit more like ’90s alternative acts such as Dinosaur Jr or Pavement. The first two tracks are straight up rockers. Heavy guitars and franticly sung lyrics make the opener “Cut Corners” a great introduction to the band’s noisier side.
By the time you get to the uniquely titled third track, “I’d Like To (but I have to not wash my hair)” the band is flirting with more of an indie rock sound (remember when I mentioned Pavement?).
The 71⁄2 minute epic quickly returns to that hard rocking sound from the beginning of the album but not for long. The song breaks into some great refrains where the heavy guitars take a break and allow the drums and bass to drive the song forward. The vocal style remains as frantic and energetic as ever though, even in the band’s quieter moments.
Following that, the band returns to their garage punk style with the enjoyable “Folklore”. Dinny Bulca never seems to get stuck in just one style though, at least not for long.
The softly strummed intro of “Twenty Minutes” leads into a beautifully crafted piece of pop music. The distorted guitars return to give the song some added flavor but the track remains one of the more personal and contemplative ones, and in my opinion some of their strongest songwriting so far.
The midpoint of the album brings out more of the “softer” side of the band again in the form of the enigmatic “Cursive Letters”. The song goes from straight-forward rock ‘n’ roll into a airy bridge of melodic guitars and quiet drumming. Following suit with the rest of the album, they don’t stay quiet for long, wrapping the song up with a noisey climax and providing the perfect lead-in for the next track, a short rocker called “Japlin”.
Skipping ahead a bit to the energetic “Last Days as a Bridge Burner”, also released by the band as a single last September, the album kicks into high gear once again. “Bridge Burner” is a fun tune, it’s a bit more structured than some of the other tracks on the album, making it more accessible to your average listener and a great choice for a single.
The folk tinged “The First One” comes in next, with a melancholy vibe that leads directly into the song’s counterpart “The Last One”. This track continues in a similar fashion as the previous one but expands upon it a bit and takes the energy up a notch or two.
The title track, “Ladies and Gentlemen”, which also serves as the closer, is a powerful end to the album. Including with the same screaming 4-count that led in the first track, the songs brings the album full circle, giving off that same excitement heard in the band on those first few tracks.
The song serves as a nice culmination of all the ideas the band laid out in the 11 tracks that preceded it, and even includes a special surprise at the very end of the album for those that stick with it through the patch of silence after the music fades out.
This somewhat erratic mix of styles crammed into one album may be a turn off to some listeners but Dinny Bulca have still managed to make Ladies and Gentlemen fairly cohesive. As a musician myself, who also struggles with balancing a wide range of influences, I appreciate the bands effort to reconcile all of these opposing genres into one very unique record.
Check out the rest of the record for yourself over at Dinny Bulca’s Bandcamp, the digital download is available via the popular “Name Your Price” option, but if the holiday season is making you feel extra generous (and in need of some cool Milwaukee rock) pick up a CD copy for only $8.