DeelanZ = Green Day + RHCP + Modest Mouse
Dylan Lewman is a wiry, weird and wonderfully stylish survivor. From awakening out of a near-death coma to now, Lewman’s “self-help” alt-rock, beneath the moniker DeelanZ, has delved into the pretty and the ugly of what it means to be living after nearly not. From the lens of a youthful perspective on the preciousness of life, Lewman serves hefty doses of realness.
His new EP, War Within, takes listeners into heady notions of the dangers of modern cultural norms and floating mindlessly through existence. Lewman’s slightly nasal, sharp vocals and equally terse lyrics make the seven track collection a splinter in the psyche.
Right out, “Authenticity” and “Snake In The Grass” poke at the superficial self-preservation and ego conceits of today’s toxic cultural norms. “Snake In The Grass” comes forward with funky guitars and urgent, alarm-like electronic additions that are themselves slightly incongruent yet appropriate for the song’s narrative and underlying dissonance.
In a characteristic turn, “Alive” suddenly becomes oddly hopeful and celebratory, lauding a beloved other and their ability to add vibrance and meaning to life. The gritty guitars and piercing vocals yet again juxtapose with the tone of the track, adding that flourish of unpredictability that suffuses the EP and the DeelanZ sound in general. “Fire Starter” gives the listener a little splash of early-2000’s Billie Joe Armstrong feels, including smart, rhyming lyrics about “my people, all my sheeple.”
The post-punk/alt-rock vibrations continue through track five, including the essential nihilism turned low-key pessimism turned quiet desperation of the genre. Lewman’s imagery often entails sickening, intensely physical metaphors of illness, injury, breakage and disaster. Mixed with generally uptempo rhythm and pop consciousness, his music is a palate pleaser for the crouching, chain smoking inner emo in us all—existential angst included, of course.
“Low” is a slightly off-color track with its almost goofy vocal layering turning toward a soaring, arena-worthy guitar bridge in a perplexing mixture of moods. War Within ends with its title track, a decidedly poppy and melodic treatise on the aspiration to overcome one’s intransigent inner turmoil, specifically the chronic and continual struggle with anxiety that Lewman lives with. The hopeful undertone of the track leaves a taste of resilience and tolerant survivalism to the EP, which feels on-brand for the complicated and adaptable life story of its maker. –Paige Zuckerman