Review: Bicentennial Drug Lord's 'BDL' Fits Like a Nice Sweater After All These Years

It's been since 1997. It's worth the wait.

Milwaukee's Bicentennial Drug Lord haven't released any music in nearly a quarter century but in the meantime, they've ventured away from some of their country sounds. Instead, they proffer distilled, addictive indie rock that'll fit some like a cozy sweater in winter with their new EP simply titled BDL.

Any fans of 90's college radio rock (or perhaps just The Connells) will rejoice: plenty of "ahs" in the harmonic choruses, the perfect mix of jangly guitar and keys interplaying with the melody, anthemic climaxes worthy of fast driving and shouting along, lyrics from the nostalgic without being overcooked. Bicentennial Drug Lord have these, and more, all over BDL.

Photo credit: Mark Cherek

The whole affair begins with a nice fake out. "Summer's Coming Down" starts suddenly enough yet eases in as a normal, mid-tempo DIY piece of rock, but then the drums shift to floor toms, helping relocate the song to the depths found in the lyrics ("Like a whisper you once borrowed/Tell me, mister"). No blaring lead guitar here, either. Instead, the chords of both guitar and keys descend from the bridge to a repeated chorus with a strong, beautiful, swirling organ and synth blend. It's the sound of a summer saying goodbye; it's wonderful.

The single from the EP, "Confessed The Sheets," has the drummer lay low while synths hover over the verses only to explode in power-chord glory for the chant of a chorus where singer John Daniels repeats "See my face when you're walking around!" It bleeds nicely into "Your Eyelids for a Bend" where the band takes to the layered "ahs" and "nahs" and reverb-drenched slide guitar as spices of the mix. "Salt Off," the closer, includes similar production without redundancy and includes the cool lyric "Lick the salt off" as a chorus. It's original much in the way most of these lyrics are on the page. It's majestic as anything in 1993.

It's easy to wish that the guys of Bicentennial Drug Lord would've replaced the slower "The Traffic Outside," which hearkens back to their country stylings from twenty-four years ago, with another fist-pumping, big-chorus banger, but after all these years, it's easy to forgive. We've waited long enough. Put on the sweater.

Bicentennial Drug Lord's new EP BDL releases August 27th; preorder or order here.

Kori Hensell
Kori Hensell
Music Director and Head Writer