Dance Gavin Dance
Downtown Battle Mountain II


4.1
excellent

Review

by Jacob R. STAFF
October 18th, 2013 | 204 replies | 12,814 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "You've got that ostrich beak that's lowering your skill in sneak.” - Jon Mess, 2011

Ah, Downtown Battle Mountain II. I remember my first impressions of this album-- browsing its highlights on Youtube when I was 17, and thinking “damn, this is sick-- and then my more fleshed-out opinions of the release on my trip to San Diego this summer. I was delving into many of the modern post-hardcore acts I’d wanted to acquaint myself with for quite some time, and had binged on Happiness for, well, the entire summer. So upon hearing this record on more than a precursory basis, I found myself thinking one thing: doesn’t this feel a bit artificial? The recycled song name, the band lineup, even the cover art-- these are all things we experienced back in 2007, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to that time period for Dance Gavin Dance. Dense albums like this require patience, though, and I’m thankful I gave it another chance, for Downtown Battle Mountain II is the most fun these guys have ever been.

These are songs that are meant to be all over the place, but they’re as well-written as they could be. The most helpful thing I can say in terms of describing this album’s sound is that it’s a wanky-post-hardcore record that has the same structuring as The Mars Volta’s The Bedlam In Goliath, in that it never lets up. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that can listen to this record in one sitting, because it’s an extinguishing of energy that lasts almost 43 minutes. But there’s nothing wrong with a record best played in short bursts-- it’s cathartic, and those small moments of absorbing it can be the biggest mood-lifters.

Let’s not understate the importance of singer Jonny Craig’s presence on this record, though. I’m not going to go into its backstory, because about all of us know Craig reached the zenith of douchery with his time in Dance Gavin Dance. What’s more important to consider is how his burnt-out persona affects Downtown Battle Mountain II, how it occasionally bleeds onto the lyric sheet and spoils Craig’s pseudo-R&B croons into something sour. The most burning example is how, when “Blue Dream” comes to a close, I can’t help but cringe. The way Jonny Craig speaks to the girl over the phone, the snarling way he asks her “what color are your ***in’ eyes?”, it kills me. Of course, there’s *kind of* a reasoning to it-- in the next track, the main chorus features the lyrics “But I’d hate to say no / when it comes to those beautiful blue eyes.” In that context, the recorded phone conversation makes sense-- it adds an infinite degree of trashiness to Downtown Battle Mountain II, which feels a bit unwarranted on an album where lyrics don’t matter much. For heaven’s sake, Jon Mess makes an Elder Scrolls joke in “Privolously Poncheesied”: “You've got that ostrich beak that's lowering your skill in sneak.” Damn it, Mess.

I’m certainly not arguing these moments shouldn't exist. As with most albums, it’d be counterproductive for me to say the silly stuff should’ve been cut-- they have to exist in order for the rest of the album to function the way it does. I’d even go so far as to argue they enrich the experience on Downtown Battle Mountain II, because I don’t have any desire to take these guys seriously. I don’t mind the classically bad raps in a few of the songs here, and it doesn't bother me that on this record, guitarist Will Swan developed a fetish for wah pedals. That’s because these frills are as essential to the record as they are over-the-top.

Because of all the blatant bull*** in Dance Gavin Dance’s music, especially on this record, I think I’m expected to bypass any sort of analysis into such a fantastically silly band. I’ll argue a counterpoint, though: albums without obvious meaning can be interpreted in an incredibly personal way, as opposed to art made with a concrete purpose. Even though I know that Downtown Battle Mountain II was probably written on behalf of the jams at hand (and they’re pretty killer ones, too-- listen to “Need Money” and you’ll hear what I mean,) and even if this album was a ploy for the band to capitalize on all its long-time fans, I don’t really mind. Even though I have every reason to denounce the group for an album with such obviously stilted origins, the music here makes me happy-- there’s no truer way to sum it up. Maybe that’s the baseline of my love affair with this group, the fact that when I take my life too seriously, they’re willing to make an album that allows me to let loose.



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user ratings (884)
Chart.
3.6
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other reviews of this album
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    Crass, upbeat, energetic and flat-out weird; these are all but a few adjectives that could...

    ZackeryDaley (5)
    The return of both original vocalists, Jon Mess and Jonny Craig, ignited Dance Gavin Dance...

    Travio (4)
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    No Macbooks, just music....

  • kevin234 (4)
    proving they are one of the best...

    David Driver (3)
    A return of original talent? Absolutely. A return to form? Not exactly....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2013



10065 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"Spooks" (probably objectively the best song here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKqc8-MJhuY

"Need Money" (my personal favorite (them horns)) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6zXWe897_o

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

bloc
October 18th 2013



34774 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

GOAT

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2013



10065 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

damn a 5 from you?

silentstar
October 18th 2013



2245 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love Elder Goose off this one. It's like the Satire of Satire .. song on Conversation Piece

WatchItExplode
October 18th 2013



3227 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Def better than Acceptance Speech but still hollow compared to Happiness

YakNips
October 18th 2013



9681 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Perfect summary ily Jakey

Digging: The Brave Little Abacus - Just Got Back from the Discomfort

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


gonna check this again now

heat seeking ghost of sex is the only thing i remember

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
October 18th 2013



13002 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

such a perfect album

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


haha jacob has just been added to bloc's list

Mort.
October 18th 2013



3409 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

perfect album. heard "heat seeking ghost of sex" and thought what the fuck is this shit, then came back to it like a few months later and loved it

Digging: The Blood Brothers - This Adultery Is Ripe

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


yeah this probably has the best production

only mess sounds a bit weak here

bloc
October 18th 2013



34774 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha jacob has just been added to bloc's list

LOL

Good memory dude.

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


you too dude

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2013



10065 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

"Def better than Acceptance Speech but still hollow compared to Happiness"

Def agree w/ this, but at the same time I can appreciate this entire record. It's technically there consistently, while Happiness has good and bad moments.

Happiness wears its heart on its sleeve, and that heart can be downright ugly in songs like SS pt. 1.

and we can get some coffeeeeeee...

Mort.
October 18th 2013



3409 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fuck sspt 1. that song is what stopped happiness getting a 5 from me

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


dgd has always been about dbm

happiness is great but it all comes down to this and dbm

bloc
October 18th 2013



34774 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Eh I dunno, you guys think SS is worse than Don't Tell Dave?

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2013



10065 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

hahaha, not at all. Wiped that one from my memory.

Mort.
October 18th 2013



3409 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

dude I actually like don't tell dave. hated it at first, but it grew on me. ss has not grown on me though.

ShitsofRain
October 18th 2013



5865 Comments


ss pt 1 to pt 2 is classic



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