Long time friends Adam Goren and Brian Sokel followed interwoven paths through the Philadelphia punk scene in the late 90’s and early 2000s. While Sokel brought riffs to the dub and hardcore blending Franklin and was the primary songwriter and multi-instrumentalist for AM/FM, releasing a number of albums on Polyvinyl Records, Goren was playing in punk bands Fracture and Armalite, and exploring the use of sequencers in his eccentric solo project Atom and His Package. In their respective projects the two toured the US and Canada together, released each other’s music on self-run labels, and Goren would even pay tribute to Sokel’s band on the Atom and His Package track “For Franklin”. Despite their closeness, they had never played in a band together until the Covid-19 pandemic
As life began to draw them in other directions, keeping up with the punk scene was no longer a priority. Even without their shared experience in music, Goren and Sokel remained in each other’s lives, ultimately finding themselves living next to each other just outside Philadelphia. As the Covid-19 pandemic forced people inside and the occasional neighborly interactions became a sole social outlet, the two shared concerns and anxieties. Conversations over the fence about politics and the increasingly confusing state of the world led the two to try writing music together, just to see what it would sound like. One song quickly became three, and soon they were recording what would come to be the self titled debut release from Dead Best.
Dead Best takes the raw pandemic expressions of two punk veterans and refines them into a ripping 13 tracks. Exhuming deep anxieties through pummeling guitars and frantic, distorted vocals, the LP is a brief but clear profile of Goren and Sokel’s combined creative voice. Grimy punk riffs propel tracks like “Life, Love and Liberty” and “Just Sounds” with the ferocious youthful intensity of Franklin or Armalite, while the frantic eccentricity of Atom and His Package shines through on “Zombies of Love”. Making the most of their fresh collaboration, Dead Best harnesses their years of shared history into a new sound, heard from the croaked vocals of “The Grind” to the instrumental grooves of “Dooms”.
The duo hadn’t initially intended the songs for release, viewing the process primarily as a coping mechanism during a period of intense upheaval. With this perspective in mind, the band set out not to clearly articulate a message with others, but to document emotional reactions for their own benefit. Abandoning pressures to “say something important”, Goren explains “at the age I’m at if I want to say something or argue something or persuade someone of something I think is important, there is media that is much more productive than making rhyming couplets”. The end result is a record that is musically emotive even when heavy distortion obscures the lyrics.