Dance Gavin Dance

Downtown Battle Mountain

Written by: PP on 21/05/2007 17:30:42

During my years as a music reviewer I have come to notice a pattern in new music releases, a kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that once a band makes it big, they rarely release as good material as they have done in the past, or in any case, aren't the ones that are going to leave you standing still in amazement like the many new small bands. Dance Gavin Dance is a band entirely unknown to the European audiences, and belong to the latter category. I don't think anybody over here saw it coming, but "Downtwon Battle Mountain" is one hell of an album, attacking the emo/screamo genre with such fierceness and originality that I'm willing to revoke my claim that innovation and relevance are a thing of the past in this genre.

Usually when I place my hands on a new record built around screaming vocals, it comes off as passionate in a cliché, non-credible way. My fellow writer TL will hate me for saying it, but bands like The Devil Wears Prada (who incidentally are on the same label as DGD) just say nothing to me, their 'passion' is just so passé and sounds fake to me. Such is not the case with Dance Gavin Dance who straight from the first lines of "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" emit so much honesty and passion through Jon Mess' explosive screams and Jonny Craig's prolonged clean-shouts, that it's difficult to think of another band in this genre who comes off as so dedicated to their music. This vibe is further strenghtened through the use of almost virtuoso guitar riffs, all different from each other but remotely similar to what Alexisonfire used on their self-titled album and "Watch Out". And it isn't here where the parallels end, as Mess's raspy screams sound almost exactly like George's and Craig pays much tribute to Dallas Green. It's no secret either that I have no problem with having another band like Alexisonfire around, but even so there isn't a single moment on the album where you would feel like they have ripped off "Watch Out", they have merely been heavily influenced by this record (as would I in their place), and they bring forth a refreshingly original and innovative take on that melodic screamo/post-hardcore approach Alexisonfire is so known for.

The differences are small but significant: the guitars are much more complicated and even bring The Fall Of Troy's "Doppelgänger" kind of complicatedness into mind at times, giving the band much leeway in making songs that each sound different but equally enjoyable. The overall sound is much brighter and uplifiting as well, this could be because while Craig has many of the same qualities as Dallas Green, his voice sounds much less lameting and more rough. Now this can be written off as not being experienced enough singer yet, but personally I prefer Craig's voice to break at the high notes as it underlines that very passion I was talking about before, and adds much character to it.

Now I realize I am making Dance Gavin Dance sound like a clone of Alexisonfire, but the truth is they have merely been influenced by them and actually have their own identity. This is probably why I rate them so much higher than many other bands in the genre, because I feel that they bring a much needed change in attitude to the genre. Sure, they might wear girl pants and have awfully angstful emo haircuts the whole bunch, but the focus with "Downtown Battle Mountain" is the music, not the look. Every song is individually great, and as such, they blend together to form an album that flows seemlessly, keeping the same style throughout. Hence one might argue that the whole album sounds the same, but does that really matter when every song fucking rules? Even if you dislike the genre as a whole, don't miss this album as it is likely to be in many top 10 charts by the end of the year.


Download: And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman, The Backwards Pumpkin Song, Strawberry Andre
For the fans of: Alexisonfire, The Fall Of Troy, Bear Vs Shark
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.05.2007
Rise Records

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