I consider Dead to Me to be one of my favorite live bands ever. Every time I've seen them they've outperformed the headlining act. Every time I've seen them has also been with a different line up and they have still blown me away. Just wanted to throw that out there before I get into the album itself.
The amazing thing about Dead to Me is how solid they have continued to be in spite of their ever-rotating cast of guitarists/second vocalists. Some would argue that 2009's African Elephants was a bit of a step backwards but the only real fault I've found with it is that the sequencing doesn't really flow and you're more likely to get a better track list by putting it on shuffle. Moscow Penny Ante fixes that problem by being less ambitious with the diversity of genre and the album flows much better from song-to-song. However, there are some missteps. It seems as if the band is taking some caution after all the line up changes and letting the guitarists do less and less singing while bassist Chicken takes the lead on about 2/3 of the album. While he's a strong vocalist, this is a pretty drastic change especially since a majority of the band's best songs were when they would take advantage of having someone sing the verses and someone else to sing the choruses. It's also a shame since new co-vocalist Sam Johnson (New Mexican Disaster Squad) does a pretty good job at picking up where Nathan Grice left off, as opposed to his Kid Dynamite imitation that fans might be more familiar with.
In spite of that, this album rocks and it's pretty standard Dead to Me. The songs are energetic and they're fun to sing along with. Often times when a band goes through so many line up changes in such a short time, it doesn't bode well for the members. But Dead to Me has found a way to make these changes work for them. With One Man Army back together and recording a new album, it might be awhile before Jack re-joins the band, but Dead to Me has shown that they will continue to progress forward with their music no matter how many changes they go through. (Although now we can all cross our fingers for a OMA/DTM tour in 2012)