REVIEW: Acid Dad - Let's Plan a Robbery

Laura Kerry

Acid Dad is the kind of band you can imagine drinking PBRs in a dingy basement, lighting something on fire, then waking up to go to a college calculus class the next morning. Still in school at NYU, Danny Gomez, Vaughn Hunt, and Kevin Walker found each other late at night in an East Williamsburg bar in 2014 and, with the recent addition of Sean Fahey, formed a band that straddles two genres: psych and punk, if they were played in a ramshackle garage.

The combination of their college enrollment, psych-punk, and garage rock might form the stereotypical “slacker” image in your mind, but Acid Dad is anything but that. Named by Oh My Rockness as New York’s third most hardworking band of 2015, they played 36 high-energy, head-banging shows last year and are slated to play about one show per day all around the country from now until the end of April, a task reserved for crazy hard workers or just plain crazies.

On their debut EP, Let’s Plan a Robbery, that kind of boundless energy manifests in Acid Dad’s songwriting. Though they embrace punk’s DIY ethic, the EP feels polished—at least in the sense that all the lo-fi fuzziness in it is perfectly balanced. And though most of their songs follow basic structures, the four tracks ebb in flow in subtler motion, a result of the painstaking process of breaking down songs to make sure each separate section, often very different, flowed. Not always recognizable, the verse-pre-chorus-chorus structure is often masked under another force more tangible throughout the EP: tension and release.

On the opener, “Don’t Get Taken,” a song that is equal parts fuzzy rock, jaunty guitar riffs, and punk rasp, the melody centers on one chord before letting loose at the end of each section, then building up into a pre-chorus refrain. The real release comes in a chorus that is just a more energetic extension of what preceded it; after repeating “Gotta get out,” singer Hunt yelps with urgency, “Get outta here now, my baby.” With the similarly uptempo and guitar hook–laden “Digger (Gotta Get That Money),” the chorus breaks up a driving, simple melody reminiscent of ‘70s punk, building to a suspended moment of quiet toward the end before heading in for the final release.

Elsewhere, it’s the chorus that’s in suspension. On the slower, dreamier “Shoot You Down,” the two-line chorus descends in three reverb-soaked chords, silencing the percussion to add quiet intensity to the final words, “I’m gonna have to shoot you down.” This, oddly enough for a softer song, is as aggressive as Acid Dad’s sentiments get in sentiment on the EP. Though audacious in tone and title—as you would expect from the punk side of their dual genre—the music has a playful edge. “Hey señorita / I don’t need ya / They gonna give me a raise,” they sing in “Digger.” And far from threatening, both “Don’t Get Taken” and “Fool’s Gold” are about getting out of bad situations (“Babe, don’t want to be in your game,” Hunt sings in the latter).

Despite its tame themes, their music still grabs you with force and shakes you, especially when played at a recommended high volume. With stubbornly catchy guitar hooks, deftly-crafted fuzzy songs, and an insane tour schedule, it seems that contrary to our imaginations, the only fires Acid Dad is lighting these days is in their own bellies (though I’m sure they’ll pick up a few PBRs along the way).