Giveaway: we have 3 copies (CD) of the new album, paired with posters, to give to 3 lucky winners, courtesy of the fine folks at Thrill Jockey Records. Just comment, leaving a contact email to join our kind-of monthly email list, and you could be randomly drawn on Friday!
Double Dagger are undoubtedly one of our fair city’s most brilliant and potent gems. Combining the best parts of the music and arts scenes from around town, the talented trio bridge the oft-chasmic valleys separating the social circles of indie, hipsterism, art and hardcore punk roots in the town. Their broad appeal is a testament to their talent and magnetism. And with this latest album, they assert themselves as a constantly progressing entity that can be so much more than the tongue-in-cheek amalgamated genre they wittingly (and back-handedly) coined “graphic design-core” so many years ago, and have been straddled with ever since by the lazy music writers of the world.
More opens with a traditional DD volley in the form of “No Allies,” a steam-rolling commentary on scene politics that delivers plenty of that trenchant DD goodness we’ve come to savor. Then we’re thrown a complete curveball as the second track, “Vivre Sans Temps Mort,” opens with a coasting and warm, minimal harmonium melody that smoothly flows under a gently plucked bass line that could easily blend in as a voice in a counterpoint piece for string ensemble. Said by Bruce to be an experimental track based on building an interesting song around one note, I’d conclude this experiment knocks it out of the park, achieving a beauteous and buoyant crest by its close. Even more disarming and unexpected are the intensely personal lyrics Nolen Strals weaves throughout the track. A confession of and reflection on deeply personal thoughts, dwelling on mortality. A sobering and thoughtful contemplation, in many ways more intimate and vulnerable than DD has ever dared to be, but with universal thematic appeal. ”We Are The Ones” plays like any of the most relentless pieces in DD’s canon, but adds in extra layers of complexity as the hypnotic periodic bass guitar slide mixes with rapid-fire bass freakouts and some extremely textured, unpredictable drumming.
Lead single “The Lie/The Truth” is one of DD’s most anthemic tracks, and probably one of their most balanced, Nolen’s spoken word in perfect dynamic harmony with the strummed bass chord and the sparse, anchoring percussive strikes. Everything approaches implosion as Strals ups the ante to shouting the cathartic chorus (backed by
Willen and Bowenguest vocalist Sam Herring of Future Islands!) as the main bass melody gets amped further and further, a screeching drone building up underneath the whole mix.
“Surrealist Composition With Your Face” is exactly the song you expect from the title, an unorthodox and unstable in-your-face blast. It takes a surprise turn when Willen pulls a Jekyll and Hyde, hopping from a sludging bass rumble (which for the first half of the track, plays a borderline-arryhthmic foil to Bowen’s drums) into a crisp and soaring, tuneful melodicism that sings as sweetly as your ears were bleeding just seconds before.
“Helicopter Lullaby” features some interesting and disorienting channel effects, fading bass in and out of L-R and really capturing that percussive chop of helicopter blades spinning in front of your face (driven home by Denny’s precise drumming). It’s a lullaby for the demented set, and I suppose is appropriate, since live Nolen will be playing the role of two-bladed rotor, his frenzied and physical freakouts similarly displacing no trivial amount of air startlingly close to you. This feeds into a marvelous fade-in transition for “Neon Grey.”
The ratcheting tension, the perfectly meted swell and recede as each instrument slowly fades in and eventually falls out, makes this instrumental track a highlight of the album that is by turns sublime and blistering. The lurching stop-and-go of the beginning of “Half-Life” curiously coaxes the track forward, wading through the heady sea of Strals’ screamed vocals, but the true hat-trick is the noise-filled segue into 2 remarkably lucid and melodic closing minutes that shows DD are about much more than abrasion, and comfortable in myriad settings.
What this all culminates in is DD crafting another great album, and a fantastic debut on Thrill Jockey. They’re more adventurous than ever before, and you’ll wonder why the hell these other bands need more members and instruments to even attempt to approach the intensity, size and diversity of Double Dagger’s sound. These guys make it sound so easy, so natural, so exhaustingly effortless. Impressive, to say the least.
Label: Thrill Jockey
Release Date: May 5 2009
1. No Allies
2. Vivre Sans Temps Mort
3. We Are The Ones
5. The Lie/The Truth
6. Surrealist Composition With Your Face
7. Helicopter Lullaby
8. Neon Gray
10. Two-Way Mirror
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