Dance Gavin Dance – Downtown Battle Mountain II
by Jeff Curry (Behavioral Neuroscience), published March 25th 2011
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Being best known for their constant lineup changes and well-publicized disputes between band members, experimental post-hardcore outfit Dance Gavin Dance are no strangers to conflict. Finally breaking the trend of never having the same two vocalists (clean and screamed vocals) on more than one album, Downtown Battle Mountain II returns to their original 2005 lineup.
With this huge renovation, however, came an equally huge fan dissension. After unprofessionally kicking out vocalist Kurt Travis and readmitting well-known asshole and drug-abuser Jonny Craig, many of the band’s newer fans entered a state of rage while older Downtown Battle Mountain I junkies praised the band’s drastic decision. Eliminating all controversy, however, Downtown Battle Mountain II perfectly blends the post-hardcore elements of the band’s debut with the progressive math-rock elements developed in more recent years.
The album commences with ‘Spooks’, a seemingly traditional opener that prolongs the band’s explosive force with a short four measures of high-pitched guitar. The conventionality of the song is tossed within two minutes, however, when lead guitarist Will Swan unleashes an ill and unexpected rap verse. This is a prime representation of Dance Gavin Dance’s golden rule: eliminate all expectations of conformability. The band’s creativity continues to flow on the progressive builder ‘The Robot with Human Hair 2 1/2′ and blues-grindcore hybrid, ‘Blue Dream’, the most experimental track on the album. The album finishes as powerfully as it began with ‘Purple Reign’, though I can’t help but be reminded at 0:30 of ‘Benny Lava’, the Bollywood-overdub YouTube hit.
Interestingly, the song titles seem to come in pairs on Downtown Battle Mountain II. For instance, the two best tracks on the album, ‘Elder Goose’ and ‘Swan Soup’, are apparently both named for the band’s infatuation with birds, whereas the two worst tracks, entitled ‘Thug City’ and ‘Need Money’, perhaps offer words of wisdom to youngsters that maybe being a gangster isn’t all that profitable. Maybe I’m thinking too much.
Seriously though, folks. Downtown Battle Mountain II is exactly what Dance Gavin Dance needed to release. Its flawless combination of past elements with new ideas shines from start to finish, satisfying every breed of Dance Gavin Dance fan. When I became a staff writer for Tastemakers, I made it my intent to not review albums I enjoyed too much. This one I couldn’t pass up. Don’t let the silly song titles fool you. Don’t dig too deeply into the sometimes immature lyrics. Don’t wonder who Gavin is and why someone would so inconsiderately force him to dance. Focus on the music and the music alone. You can thank me later. Really. I’ll be waiting.
Recommended Tracks: Spooks, Elder Goose, Swan Soup, The Robot with Human Hair pt. 2 1/2