Dance Gavin Dance
Downtown Battle Mountain II


4.5
superb

Review

by iChuckles USER (21 Reviews)
August 16th, 2012 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crass, upbeat, energetic and flat-out weird; these are all but a few adjectives that could aptly describe the latest studio album from post-hardcore rockers Dance Gavin Dance.

Nowadays when a new Dance Gavin Dance album is released, the first question being brought up is: which vocal duo is at the helm this time around? Sacramento-based post-hardcore outfit Dance Gavin Dance has, despite all of their undeniable talent, had a hard time trying to keep one persistent line-up intact. Their debut-album Downtown Battle Mountain saw vocalists Jonny Craig, Jon Mess and guitarists Will Swan, Sean O’ Sullivan as well as bass player Eric Lodge and drummer Matthew Mingus taking a stab at the post-hardcore scene: introducing complex song-structures and unorthodox guitar work. The end result was a memorable, if flawed, album with some songs ranging from outstanding (“Lemon Meringue Tie”) to average (“Strawberry André”).

Following the album’s release, clean singer Jonny Craig was kicked out of the band and was instead replaced by Kurt Travis – who took up vocal duties alongside Jon Mess on their self-titled album, and then guitarist Will Swan on Happiness, who handled the unclean vocals in place of Jon Mess’ vacancy. Now, we’re back at square one: Jonny and Jon is back and Will Swan now operates on his own; writing two guitar parts with one them being passed over to a touring guitarist. Now in spite of all the internal drama regarding Jonny Craig’s Macbook-scam and drug-related issues, one might wonder if the band can deliver an album worthy of being placed in the pantheon of post-hardcore albums.

The answer as it turns out is yes. Downtown Battle Mountain II represents the culmination of four years worth of Dance Gavin Dance music-making wizardry as this album remains, despite being more than a year old, one of the most musically diverse, crass and experimental albums in the band’s library – incorporating elements of metal, punk, funk, soul and even hip-hop. The album kicks off with the schizophrenic song “Spooks” which starts out with a spine-tingling intro from Jonny Craig who truly shows off his true, most rawest talent on the album. The interlude is then interrupted by Jon Mess whose high-frazzled screams have come a long way since his low-range guttery growling on the first DBM album. Amidst an upbeat breakdown, guitarist Will Swan throws in an interesting rap part, which is then followed by some terrific wa-wa guitar work and soulful chanting from Jonny, and then concludes with some aggressive screaming from Jon.

The variety and level of experimentation remains wholly impressive throughout, and no song sounds quite like the other. Furthermore, on the song “Blue Dream” Jonny Craig gets to show off his true vocal prowess as the song takes on a very jazz and blues-esque tone with some beautiful verses and back-and-forth yelping between the two front-men. The song sadly loses some luster towards its half-baked final stretch, which ends bizarrely with a phone call involving Jonny and some half-asleep girl.

Jon Mess does have quite a few highlights: the weighty and raunchy “Pounce Bounce” and “Need Money” let’s Jon shine, although his vocal work is at its best when it meshes with Jonny’s angelic clean singing (“Elder Goose” is a good example of this). Unfortunately, strong unclean screaming aside, the biggest weakness on the album can be attributed to Jon’s absolutely nonsensical lyrics. While Jonny’s lyrics are relatively strong and ambiguous, Jon’s are just flat-out weird without ever feeling meaningful.

While I will admit that I laughed hard when reading the lyrics for “Need Money” which has a part that reads: “Don’t *** in my bed, though/It’s a fallacy/I LIKE MEATLOAF", this comical form of songwriting only works for so long. Jon stated in an interview that the lyrics are meant for artistic flow and delivery rather than meaning, but it also creates an odd disconnect between the two vocalists. They’re simply far too random and just don’t fit with Jonny’s far more inspired and coherent lyrics and as such, Jon’s role on certain songs feel questionable.

Yet in spite of some incoherency, it's still hard not to appreciate the level of talent and ingenuity on display. The guitar, bass and drum work absolutely sings here and so does Jonny Craig from the bottom of his lungs and while Jon does a fine job of contributing to the heavy-metal sound of the album, his lyrical themes will have to mature quite a bit for him to even come close to his superior vocal partner. All things considered, this is still one memorable and finely put together album, with every song being worthy of listening to and with many of them enticing the listener to come back.



Recent reviews by this author
Four Year Strong Brain PainKnocked Loose A Different Shade of Blue
State Champs Living ProofCounterparts You're Not You Anymore
For The Win Heavy ThoughtsDance Gavin Dance Mothership
user ratings (1380)
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2012


57224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Where did the rest of the summary go?

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2012


16572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As someone who rarely pays attention to the lyrics I completely disagree with your knock on the comical form of songwriting, its more then welcome imo but this album slays dragons..

Digging: Grey Matter (MI) - Climbing Out

bloc
August 16th 2012


61011 Comments


Love it

Digging: Cut Copy - I Thought Of Numbers

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2012


57224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you for pointing out that Strawberry Andre is average

Tyrael
August 16th 2012


21112 Comments


DGD is gonna suck so hard without Jonny, fuck

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2012


57224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2012


16572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As long as Will Swan and Matt Mingus are in this band it will be good

Storm In A Teacup
August 16th 2012


27742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

*Dirty Gringo Douches

Pentagon
August 16th 2012


1998 Comments


its always sucked

iChuckles
August 16th 2012


339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Where did the rest of the summary go?"



No Idea, and I'm not sure how to fix it..



Thanks for the comments everyone!

taxidermist
August 16th 2012


7249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Happiness is still their best.

iChuckles
August 16th 2012


339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Happiness is still their best."



Happiness is outstanding, but the band lost its post-hardcore feel on that album.



ConcubinaryCode
August 16th 2012


5338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Self titled is best. Happiness is just really fun.

Digging: Poison the Well - Versions

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2012


57224 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Who cares whether it was post-hardcore enough or not I only care that it rules

MalleusMaleficarum
August 16th 2012


16382 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rating is way too high but like, cool review i guess

Sauce
August 17th 2012


919 Comments


disagree that jonny's lyrics are anything close to "inspired." not that i don't love this album.

Groink
August 17th 2012


844 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mess is a fucking beast.

Digging: Dance Gavin Dance - Afterburner

Captain North
August 17th 2012


6793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I tend to do my best to just ignore the lyrics. Compare that to Happiness where the lyrics to the first half at least are genuinely good (and surprisingly heartbreaking)

MalleusMaleficarum
August 17th 2012


16382 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

he uses the word swag in his everyday life

Discworld
August 18th 2012


2 Comments


that's very not awesome...



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy