Dance Gavin Dance - Downtown Battle Mountain
Label Record: Rise Records
Release Date: May 15, 2007
Jonny Craig is everywhere these days, handling his own with Emarosa, Isles & Glaciers, his solo work, and now rejoining Dance Gavin Dance (yes, it's really happening!). His rejoining of the band is the main reason for this album review. He is well known for his incredible voice, known all around the post-hardcore scene. Granted, it's not as if you didn't already know that.
Dance Gavin Dance will not only hook you to Craig's singing, but also the guitars, which are the two highlights of this band. He reaches his highs in songs like "Antlion" and "Open Your Eyes and Look North," and his lows in "The Backwards Pumpkin Song.” Then there are songs in which Craig and Jonathan Mess, a.k.a. screamer, sing and scream together, like in "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" and "It's Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat." The only problem is that Mess isn't all that great of a screamer, albeit not terrible, which slightly weighs down the band as a whole. A good example of this is “Strawberry Andre.” He screams for majority of the song, leaving Craig out of the spotlight for once. It’s unfortunate because it’s not a very good song; his vocals sometimes sound like an old cheese grater. Despite a unique but mediocre screamer, he isn’t unbearable to listen to.
The lead guitars are the star of the show. They are some of the best guitar in the post-hardcore scene. "The Backwards Pumpkin Song" and "Lemon Meringue Tie" are prime examples of the uniqueness employed, and show influences from The Fall of Troy. There seems to be a lack of bass and the drumming is nothing great, but regardless, few bands put out great guitars like DGD.
"It's Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat," is the best song on this album. Craig gets a solid two minutes in the middle of the song to himself so he can show his abilities as a singer without cheese grater tag-teaming with him. The song also showcases some nice guitars.
Now, for this band's worst fault...you guessed it: the lyrics. These guys are not lyrical geniuses, and it's completely obvious. In "Strawberry Andre," it's extremely weird to hear: "Dressed in time to sip the wine and cover your head / Nice of you to stay a few and bleed on my bed / People flake, they wake and bake forget what you said / Obviously, not possibly you didn't take your meds." Or in "Open Your Eyes and Look North:" "Couldn't brace yourself for the morphine hallway / Lying on the ground with a heart as a ball and chain / Message to the bird I know your wings will be fine / Spread them on the floor, learn to heal with take time." The meaning of most of these songs is about drugs and a first love, but how should you decipher the meaning to a song that makes zero sense?
It is pretty exciting to see what Dance Gavin Dance can do now that Mr. Craig is back. He mentioned in an interview with Alternative Press that he hopes their new album (to be released next year) will be a mix of the old and the new. Hopefully the songwriting is improved, but for now, Downtown Battle Mountain is surely an album that you should listen to, especially if you love Jonny Craig's voice.