Dance Gavin Dance - Happiness
Record Label: Rise
Release Date: July 9, 2009
Usually when a band releases a new CD, there are usually two main worries: how the music is, and how much the band has changed. However, ever since the debut album from Dance Gavin Dance, Downtown Battle Mountain, it seems the only real issue fans care about is, "will it be as good as the almighty Johnny Craig" (their former vocalist). I think I've read more comments about how Craig was either better or worse than actual information on what people think of the music. When the band released their previous effort, the untitled (death star album), I was an immediate fan. I loved almost everything about that record and began to look on AP.net to see how others felt. However, it seemed to me that people only cared about how superbly better Craig was than their new singer Kurt Travis. No one really looked at how skillful the guitars were, or how the bass didn't just follow the kick drum or disappear in the mix, or how the drums were unique and flowed perfectly. So when I heard DGD had a new CD coming out so early I was ecstatic and hoped that maybe people would delve into the music beyond just the new singer (and excessive use of the word fuck).
I assumed fans wouldn't even remember who Johnny Craig was by this CD. That was until DGD released a cd almost completely nothing like anything they've released before. Maybe this band just loves haters, because it seems every move they make attracts them. So now, there is a mass of people who don't really dwell on Craig anymore, but instead they make a point of how different the band is now and that they aren't "Dance Gavin Dance" anymore. But I digress. All that useless forum drama aside, what's the actual verdict on the music? Happiness is superb on many levels, even with the change.
The CD begins with "Tree Village," probably the only song that is really similar to their previous music, and it is an excellent track. Kurt Travis has taken hold of this band and his vocals lead the driving, faster-paced song. This is also the first time Will Swan (their guitarist and new screamer) has been on a recording. Swan has a very unique scream that is much more accesible to the fans than that of John Mess, their former screamer. Even if you despise the other songs, most fans will definitely find the opener, a solid track.
The next two songs are similar, featuring very quick guitars and a more equal amount of screaming/singing. "Nasa" showcases the bands two guitarists talent, something that is lacking in this scene nowadays. Dance Gavin Dance is definitely not a fan of power chords or music that you can rock the fuck out too because you are playing a four-note breakdown the entire time. Both "Nasa" and "I'm Down With Brown Town" are great tracks, the latter of which features a chorus with some sweet shredding in the background.
Next comes "Carl Barker" my favorite on the CD. The bass is superb and holds most of the song the whole time. The catchy chrous slows it down and makes this a very memorable track. "Happiness" comes next, which is the CD's title, though many songs mention the happiness theme very frequently. This is a more laid-back track where Travis's vocals are the highlight. This is a track that Dance Gavin Dance have never really done before, especially with the fact that there isn't screaming until the end.
Next is "Self-Trepanation," which is an enigma of a song. The song starts of with an eerie guitar sound, then kicks in full-band with screaming. The song comes off to be an extremely heavy song, but then it transitions into quiet singing and a very mellow riff with a jazzy feel to it. The song never picks back up. It's my least favorite on the CD but it isn't necessarily bad. The next three songs are like nothing DGD has ever made. "The Strawberry Swisher pt. 1" is laid-back with an R&B feel and humorous lyrics. Next comes "Don't Tell Dave," which showcases a kind of funk feel. This is a song I see most fans completely hating, but the guitars are excellent and I love when a band can create a song completely outside of their usual genre. "The Strawberry Swisher pt. 2" follows. It's probably the most skippable song, as it is similar to pt. 1, but lacking in excitement.
The final song is "Powder To The People", a great closer to the cd. The guitars are very unique and the lead is almost nothing like the rhythm, but they blend somehow perfectly, something Dance Gavin Dance has always been capable of doing. The song has a rap in the middle that fits very well and doesn't hinder the song, and then the song transitions to a more upbeat ending until the CD ends with instrumentals only. The last minute of the song will impress almost anyone who has ever tried to play a guitar.
All in all, Dance Gavin Dance created this CD in full and released it less than a year after their prior disc, a feat that takes most bands two years to do. If you open your ears and your mind to this CD, I'm sure you will enjoy it. And I know that regardless of what this band does, hate will follow. I just hope you take the time to notice how damn good the music truly is.
i'm osrry, but i absolutely despised the death star album. It bugged me so much, and not just because the new lineup, but because the band had changed so far and went nowhere with it. I'm not the only one who thinks so. However, I like Carl Baker, Self-Trepanation 1 (have no idea why, just very odd.) Tree Village. I want to hear Powder 2 da ppl tho.
i'm one of the few fans who's NOT a johnny craig fan. i really think nabbing kurt was a great decision. don't get me wrong, i love love love dtown battle mtn, but i like death star even more. but of course, my favorite album is the new one. i love how they sound practically like a different band with each release and i love the direction they went with this one. this was a great review; i agree, not enough attention is given to the wonderful musicianship. oh and i saw them earlier today at warped tour- they played songs from all 3 full lengths and kurt does a fantastic job singing johnny craig's part. also i like will swan's scream a LOOOOOOTTTTT more than jonathan mess's.