Review Summary: If Jonny wasn't such as ass, I'd love to see where this band would be now.
Very few albums have ever defined a long period of time in my life. Since my first beautifully convenient iPod, certain albums find themselves being replayed over and over again, regardless of how I’m familiar with every aspect of each song. Once upon a time there was albums like Showbread
’s spastic No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical
, Trophy Scars
’ ambiguous Alphabet. Alphabets.
, and then there was this. Dance Gavin Dance
is a post-hardcore band from sunny Sacramento, California, and like the state’s perception of being possibly ‘a little bit off’, this band puts a spin on the image of the modern post-hardcore scene.
The band reeks of tappable creativity as the first ‘real’ track comes blaring up. First thing you’ll take interest in is the powerful voice of Jonny Craig, belting over a fairly simple octave based riff and steady drums. Jon Mess comes in second, barking raspy yells over and under the crooning, and you’ll soon get used to the pattern. The singers never trade places through the album, Jon filling the aggression and Jonny fueling the passion. The guitar leads come through beautifully, complex yet understandable, supplied with a perfectly complimentary rhythm section. The drummer taps into complex and creative patterns, inventive fills, and interesting sections, luckily straying from the straight double bass and breakdowns the genre has come to earn its image from. The bassist has a concise sound, and is perfectly capable of pulling off intriguing instrumental sections, demonstrated by the guitar and bass surprises in the intro to Lemon Meringue Tie
. The wonderful tag team of Sean and Will on guitar duty gives this album a more substantial feeling, as they pull off memorable verses and bridges throughout almost every song, unlike most forgettable bands in the ‘scene’.
The songs skirt the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-breakdown structure also expected within the scene. Sections of clean and inventive guitar ambience and soft, higher pitched singing provide feelings of maturity and substance (see It’s Safe to Say You Dig the Back Seat
), while positively bursting choruses (see Open Your Eyes and Look North
) illustrate the groups ability to explode outwards with surprising talent. Every song in the album provides creative essence, not just the standardized dropped-D chugging, power chords, and everything else every genre enthusiast has come to expect. The inventive instruments and the power behind the singing makes up for some of the albums flaws, like the occasionally sub-par yelling of Jon, and the difficulty of telling some songs or sections apart. Also, several riffs sound recycled, and it might take a deeper listen to bypass the ‘scream, sing, repeat’ stereotype.
Another notable part of the band is the lyrical duties, run by the ever pissed-off sounding Jon. It’s with difficulty, however, that you have to choose whether or not he’s gifted or just plain lazy.
Sit down, call off the cavalry
I'm stealing the jewels
In a slow motion action replay
Bar fight, I invented chivalry
Notch in my bed post
Slow motion action replay.
While several members of this band quit in the years following the debut’s release, this album continues to be an amazing example of what a good band can do in a not so good scene. The group was in constant conflict during the conception and execution of this record, but it comes off as a whole product. Jonny quit soon after, moving on to the dreadful Emarosa
, while most the other members shuffled their own different ways. Dance Gavin Dance
still exists today, with only two of the original members since their conception in 2005. With the raw talent this band possessed, DGD continues to go places (largely because of the recently unleashed talent of Will Swan), and this album stays proudly put in my CD player. Downtown Battle Mountain
deserves a worthy rating for a worthy album.