Deathbed Repentance, Why Do We Even Try?

Deathbed Repentance, Why Do We Even Try?

While I was apparently sleeping, it seems Houston’s garage-punk underground has been busy. On top of the bands I’ve already been blown away by, like Something Fierce, the Monocles, Teenage Kicks, Born Liars, and Ragged Hearts, now here comes Deathbed Repentance, emerging just about fully-formed out of the toxic swamp we call home.

And I’ll admit that H-town punk over the past five years or so, prior to these bands coming up, has had me despairing somewhat — I’m not a huge hardcore fan in general, and the noise stuff just doesn’t do a lot for me most of the time, I’m afraid. I get it, but I don’t like it, if you get my meaning. The kind of punk I do tend to like is the kind I grew up with, meaning that it usually owes a heavy debt to the Clash, the Ramones, Rancid, and Social Distortion; loud-yet-tuneful guitars, raw-throated vocals, heartfelt lyrics you can yell along to, and hell, an actual melody underlying the whole thing.

All of which means Deathbed Repentance’s Why Do We Even Try? is just about damn perfect for me. They hit all the touchstones above, particularly with regard to Mike Ness & co.; the first time I heard the awesome, awesome “Heads You Win, Tails I Lose,” I would’ve bet a twenty that it was a song off a Social D album I don’t yet own. The guitars roar and blaze but retain a countrified tinge (especially on “The Sun Goes Down in Houston,” which has replaced Sugar Shack’s “Go! Space City” as my favorite H-town anti-anthem), the lyrics paint pictures of hard-luck, bottom-of-the-barrel lives wrecked by love, booze, crime, and the IRS, and guitarist/vocalist Randy Rost bellows and croons like Ness in his prime.

There’s barely a throwaway track on here, honestly — the album kicks in with “Sun Goes Down” and keeps the pedal to the floor throughout. The aforementioned “Heads You Win, Tails I Lose” is my personal high point, with the danceable, back-and-forth guitars (love that funny little bend/warble Rost does in the chorus) and self-effacing lyrics that sound like they’d be best read through the glass of a bottle. Oh, and it reminds me a hell of a lot of Billy Bragg’s “To Have And To Have Not,” which is a very cool thing.

There’s also the fiery “Live by the Gun” and “Don’t Follow Me,” as well as “Worn Out Shoes,” which makes me think weirdly of a mashup between alt-country guys Lucero and ska-punk icons Operation Ivy. “The Doors Wouldn’t Open” mixes up Bob Wills-style country with chiming pop and punk rhythms, not to mention some truly thoughtful lyrics about being downtrodden and forgotten in this oh-so-wonderful modern world of ours. And another high-high-high point, “Never Live It Down,” is a beautifully nihilistic punk blast that’s nostalgic and defiant at the same time, a toast to friends gone by and an amazed confession that life’s lasted as long as it already has.

So, color me impressed; Deathbed Repentance have well and truly blown me away. Sure, they probably sound a little too similar to Social Distortion for some folks, but don’t be fooled: beneath the rockabilly-ish guitars and gravelly vocals, there’re some damn fine songs burning brightly. Hopefully this is far from the last thing from these guys — I’ve heard a rumor that they’re now signed to Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Records imprint, which is great if it’s true, because they definitely deserve that kind of a boost. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for y’all; keep it up.

(Times Up! Records; Deathbed Repentance --
BUY ME: Interpunk

Review by . Review posted Friday, January 25th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Deathbed Repentance, Why Do We Even Try?

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Back From The Dead: Blackmarket Syndicate, Coming Back Around Tomorrow Night on April 20th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    […] now for some more good news… A few years back I got sent a CD, Why Do We Even Try?, by a scrappy little trio I’d never heard of before called Deathbed Repentance, and I was […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: The Tontons + Featherface (Rev’d!) + Blackmarket Syndicate + The Mink Last Call + More on November 12th, 2014 at 10:25 am

    […] Blackmarket Syndicate — been a fan since I first heard their debut as Deathbed Repentance, Why Do We Even Try? — and I’m happy to see them playing more regularly around town these […]

Leave a Reply

H-Town Mixtape

Upcoming Shows



Recent Posts


Our Sponsors