Music Reviews
The Dollyrots

The Dollyrots

Night Owls

Wicked Cool Records

Whether it’s their immaculate choices for covers or original compositions, I come back to The Dollyrots when I need a bit of sun-soaked (but still horror-themed-leaning) levity in my rocking. I’m typically not drawn to pop-punk, but the L.A. by way of Florida Dollyrots have had such a pervasive optimism through their catalog that my brain doesn’t recognize them as such. The musical cues are correct, the fashion is in-line, and the attitudes are present, but The Dollyrots seem more honest and fun, and definitely more like people I’d hang out with. Pop-punk is supposed to be fun, that’s the draw.

New album Night Owls seems like it was written just for my specific existence in 2023, coming out of the pandemic and realizing that I am too old for some of the lifestyle choices I adopted in my 20s, that were getting in the way of me living. Time is cruel, but I, like The Dollyrots, am doing my best to embrace aging gracefully.

Lead single “When We’re Sober” addresses this in the band’s signature soundscape of aggressive positivity. Bassist and singer Kelly Ogden has this to say about the track:

“When We’re Sober” isn’t an anti-drinking song, and it’s not a pro-drinking song. It’s more about acknowledging how easy it is to lose control of something when you aren’t aware of your own tendencies.”

I’ve rarely, if ever, had so much fun getting life lessons by way of sharing the experiences of other adults. Forever a night owl myself, my adulting responsibilities have shifted when I sleep. I’m not sure if I like waking up with the sun instead of realizing I should be going to bed because the sun is rising, but alas. The title track, “Night Owl” is such a happy bop that it could be a fantastic “get me ready for my day” anthem.

Track “Hot Mom With The Skinny Pants On” happens when you are “Stacy’s Mom.” It’s clever and of-the-moment, while acknowledging the history and attitudes of the sub-genre. The Dollyrots have always had a pretty great sense of humor with a healthy dose of self-confidence, as evidenced by the band’s top streaming tracks, the title track and their most beloved cover, “Brand New Key,” a hit single from 1971 by American folk music singer Melanie, both from the 2007 album Because I’m Awesome. The final track on Night Owls (13, of course!) is a very clever reworking of Billy Bragg’s incredible “A New England.” I emphasize reworking as opposed to covering, because Kelly Ogden sings and reworks the lyrics that Bragg had written from a male perspective to a female perspective. It changes the meaning of the entire song. It’s wonderful!

There’s a trend in punk and metal bands over the past few years, where the kids in concert audiences are invited onstage to belt out lyrics along with the band. I have witnessed this personally at Dropkick Murphys and Volbeat shows. The Dollyrots’ tour closer back in their home state of Florida included the kids part, to many attendees’ enjoyment! Is it realistic that these bands have a fanbase with kiddos of their own and want to be inclusive, family friendly? Of course! Is it still weird to see? It is for this author.

Night Owls was released on Friday the 13th back in October, and it’s a fitting date for any Dollyrots album to be available to the public. It fits the band’s whole image! You may wonder why I am reviewing an album so much later, and I have that answer. Night Owls is the perfect escape from the incessant corporate machine that the good ole USA has become leading up to The Holidays. So, put your headphones on while you shop, and listen to this instead of Christmas music for two solid months. You will be very glad you did, and your holiday cheer may be intact by the time you actually need to share it with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!

The Dollyrots


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