On January 9, 2018, Vancouver-based indie band DEALS released their second EP, Johnny. A blend of ‘90s rock and modern indie pop, DEALS’ lo-fi sound has enough grit to constitute the label “garage rock,” but the band’s cohesiveness elevates them above other artists in the same genre. DEALS’ sound is a mix of pulsing drums, buzzing guitars, and laid-back vocals, held together by excellent tonal quality and mixing. Think Parquet Courts and King Gizzard as examples of artists who embody a similar sound to that which DEALS executes so well. The trio features Brent Glasgow-Brown on drums, Dave Warne on guitar, and Jaroslav Welz on bass, with all three members sharing vocals. Despite all the noise that the band makes, no member seems to overpower the others. The guitar licks are distinct, but don’t steal the show. The drums build a solid foundation for the rest of the band without drowning them out. The basslines go on their own little journeys, but always manage to find their way back home. It’s a rarity to find such balance and consistency in a band these days.
The EP begins with “Johnny,” opening with a dreary guitar accompanied by the lyrics, “When I first called you I was scared / It had been too long / But when I heard your voice I knew you.” A fitting opening for an EP that comes two years after the band’s last release, these first few lines seem to mirror the listener’s feelings of familiarity at hearing DEALS again after such a long hiatus. It only takes seconds for the song to go from soft indie to banging rock, and it holds that energy right through to the end. On “Ravens,” DEALS begins to experiment a bit more with their rhythm, an almost conversational tone to the back-and-forth between vocalists as they harmonize, and the catchy hook, “I miss the Ravens / Where did they go?” is addictive. The last song, “Atlas,” is co-written with prOphecy sun. It begins as more of a ballad before cranking up the energy and closes out the record on a high note.
DEALS takes a sound that has been the mainstay of garage rockers for decades, and cleans it up with enough personality to stand out from the crowd. For a five song EP, this project is packed with catchy melodies, masterful instrumentation, and a sound that has you craving more. If Johnny is any indicator, DEALS has a bright future ahead of them.