Saturday, December 26, 2009
Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2009: Number 5
There's a difference, sometimes a great gulf, between a great live band and a great recorded band. It's all about energy levels, what a performer gives personally to their audience and what it does to that audience's pheremones, serotonin levels and eardrums. Dananananaykroyd, you'd think, would be most susceptible to this, being that their gigs are more like some great lost Washington DC underground post-hardcore band throwing a community support meeting with mescaline on tap. What hope does a band realistically have of capturing the lightning in a bottle atomic energy and Wall Of Cuddles on record? Well, apart from the latter, a very good chance. See, at the root of such madness is a set of songs that so carefully tread the line between dissonance and sussedness that they can't help but sound vital. They have the Awesome Pals! gene we've discussed before, where listening and appreciating almost feels like entry to a secret club where you can't place exactly what they do, especially not directly in terms of their immediate peers, but at the same time what they do feels extraordinary and something you'd love to be a part of. And if that doesn't make sense, then just take it that they're a band who make the extraordinary feel everyday, near enough a new benchmark for those who turn up and fuzz out in this country.
The opening track here, for instance. It's ninety seconds long, it features no words, and yet it sets their celebrated 'fight-pop' stall out perfectly. The double drummers crash round the periphery while guitarists David Roy and Duncan Robertson switch from huge power chords to intricate little runs before everything disintegrates into a mess of feedback and cymbals for the second half of the song-ette. The first vocal comes at the outset of Watch This!, a chanted chorus of the bandname, following which John Bailie Jnr stalks out his territory with one well chosen word: "Hiya!" Then things start clanging into and over each other, the two drummers clattering in time while Calum Gunn joins him for verbal sparring and the pair of them begin attempting to bring the house down by merely the force of effort. They sound restless, because they are restless. For the fact that six of these eleven tracks had been previously released, and two of those new five songs total two and a half minutes, working with Machine has brought a whole new sonic language to these already not exactly underplayed songs. The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash would be hard rock if not for its strutting riff, followed by a squealing mess of everything thrown down the stairs that passes for a midway breakdown, followed by an enormous slab of anthemic granite over which Gunn goes positively post-modern screamo. Totally Bone explodes out of the box with double drum rolling led on by a virtual guitar fanfare and the killer opening line "since I became emasculated, can you take me aside?" Black Wax is what Dananananaykroyd think pop songs sound like. It's more jangly, it's peppered by rhythmic handclaps and features a huge "whooooo!" before the chorus. It is, by the way, nobody else's idea of pop. Ever. Those sorts of musical motif are what really makes Hey Everyone! work. It's full of little moments - the first time the central Pink Sabbath riff appears over cyclonic drums, the mass introductory chant and HGV sized bludgeoning figure at the start of the chorus Some Dresses, the way everything interlocks during the drawn-out intro to Song One Puzzle, the becalmed "turn your hissy fits into sissy hits" last minute and a half of 1993. Hey Everyone! is one almighty storm, but one so meticulously planned out that it has a certain crooked melody hidden under all the noise screes and barrage of cross-purpose vocally giving of all. Any band that can even out handclaps and hardcore pummelling must be special.
The full list