Review Summary: On this album, the guys really manage to perfect their sound they were developing on Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean.
DANCE GAVIN DANCE – Downtown Battle Mountain
• Jonny Craig - Lead Vocals
• Jonathan Mess - Screamed Vocals
• Will Swan - Guitar
• Sean O'Sullivan - Guitar
• Eric Lodge - Bass Guitar
• Matt Mingus - Drums
Dance Gavin Dance is a post-hardcore band from Sacramento, California that formed in 2005. The band is known for their intricate guitar work, their cool song titles, their instrumental prowess, and on this album, the soaring clean vocals of Jonny Craig. Downtown Battle Mountain was the last album they recorded with Craig and guitarist Sean O’Sullivan. On this album, the guys really manage to perfect their sound they were developing on Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean. The songs on this album have a lot more hooks and they are more coherent and thought out.
Their first effort, Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean, showed that the group had potential to be something great but failed to really have many moments that truly stood out. Downtown Battle Mountain has a lot more screaming when compared to Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it depends if you like Jon Mess’s screaming. It’s not even really screaming, as a matter of fact, it is just a really harsh shout. I personally find he has made a bit of a niche for himself in this album and he fits quite well as his appearances on the album are more often hit than miss. A great example of Jon Mess doing a good job is in “Backwards Pumpkin Song”. I love how the song kicks off with him belting out “Sit down, call off the cavalry, I'm stealing the jewels, in a slow motion action replay”. It just sounds powerful. Overall, Jon Mess provides a yang to Jonny Craig’s yin for a great dual-vocal assault.
Jonny Craig is an outstanding vocalist to say the least. Some people consider him the only reason this album wasn’t a complete disaster. I on the other hand, disagree. Jonny Craig is just one of the positive colors that stands side by side with the expansive palette of dynamics this collection of songs possesses. Ah, but that is a debatable topic that is for another discussion. I really can’t name a song where Craig doesn’t provide an awesome performance. There are just so many vocal highlights in almost every song. I guess the ones that jumped out at me the fastest were “And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman”, where he passionately delivers soothing melodies for the whole song. Also, the chorus of “Lemon Meringue Tie” is just outstanding when Craig sings “And I don't know why, I don’t know why, I fight for you this way, Fight for you this way, Fight for you this way-ay-ay-ayyyyyy”.
Instrumentally, this album is top-notch for post-hardcore. The guitars and bass are usually very intricate (See “It's Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat” and the soothing intro of “Open Your Eyes And Look North”). They accompany the emotions the songs are trying to deliver amazingly well (See “Lemon Meringue Tie”). I can’t really give a drumming highlight, but Matt Mingus does a pretty good job keeping the songs together and tight when needed and loosens up at times and provides a wide variety of beats and rhythms which rarely bore the listener. Although, the bass player only comes out and plays interesting bass lines around 35% of the time. He is a decent bass player and I would have liked to see more of his playing, but he did a good job as the genre isn’t really renowned for its spectacular bass playing.
There are only really a few negative things about this album. “Strawberry Andre” sticks out like a sore thumb. To be frank, it just sucks for the most part. It features a nice clean bridge, but is really just a boring track that I tend to skip when listening to DBM. Other nitpicky things include the “Untitled” intro which flows into “And I Told Them…” It’s kind of cool sounding and I like how it flows into the next track but it just kind of drags on for too long. Also, the last track, “12 Hours, 630 Miles”, is an acoustic track with just strumming and Jonny passionately singing. It has nice vocals, but it is kind of an average and boring way to end off the album and I think it could have served as a nice clean break in the middle of the album. It should have been a little shorter too. Lastly, and ironically, this album can to be a bit of a lyrical mess here and there. Jonathan Mess states at the end of “Lemon Meringue Tie”, and I quote: “Hey girl, you're the best. I'm a sucker, maybe I should *** her now”.
Overall, this is an amazing album and a lot of these songs are great post-hardcore anthems. Just a few minor problems keep this record from being a classic. Since this is the last record to feature Jonny Craig, most fans of the band consider this their best record. While Craig is a great vocalist, there is so much more to Downtown Battle Mountain than Jonny Craig. This band has a great future and I think they will keep delivering us tasty albums for quite awhile.
- Well written passionate songs.
- Intricate and tight instrumental work.
- Great dual vocal assault.
- Little filler compared to most post-hardcore albums.
- Creative and dynamic.
- Strawberry Andre.
- Untitled drags on for a bit too long.
- Lyrically sparse occasionally.
- Could have had more bass playing (The bass is great, but there was wasted potential, and I just had to put something else here).
OVERALL RATING: 4.2/5