ALBUM REVIEW: Tree City Sessions – Dance Gavin Dance

Sacramento Psychedelic Punk Rockers DANCE GAVIN DANCE come at the scene with brand new record, mixing together a whole plethora of genres to off up Tree City Sessions, a re-worked collection of 12 fan favourite tracks.

Kicking of is Alex English, which is a mixture of electronic layering in the production, and hectic riffs over pop style chords, and the chorus is there are a few bends that feel like they’re trying to be a little more heavy metal than this heavy-edged Electronic Rock can take. It’s a strange mixture of old THE BLACKOUT, 30 SECONDS TO MARS in there, so take what you will.

The Robot With Human Hair pt4, in its calmer moments has some nice melodies to it, a decent bit of riffing over a rhythm section that can still add texture. The more erratic sections can really allow some loose movement into this track, and while in some sections the piece forgets itself and its way, overall it’s an effort worth looking into. Clean vocals are actually genuinely well suited to this style of music, while the screams feel a little too high to bring the weight that is needed here. Tree Village is written in much the same style as the previous track, part pop song part violent punk soundtrack. This feels a little like ADEPT, only the vocals are more desperate and the tone a little more unclear. Moving on to Lemon Meringue Tie, while still a pretty good song, has a riff pattern just slightly too similar to the track before. It’s all good and well establishing a sound, but recycling the same key tune is just a little too close. By the mid part of the song, the differences show themselves, but unfortunately you shouldn’t be thinking two track start the same unless it’s absolutely intentional.

Thankfully We Own The Night starts as a brand new creation on its own, with a clear lyrical drive, and finally the two vocals styles are layered to perfection. It’s a quieter track, and it actually works better for it, allowing the bass some time to shine on the same level as its drum section. The riff is cut back enough to be really memorable as oppose to a conjunction of notes in the same key. It’s actual musicality that comes from this track, and yes, it’s not especially heavy, it has charm and memorability. Thug City feels like being utterly wired for the first time. It has that hazardous feeling of losing yourself in a festival, or near the end of a crazy gig where your calves are weak and the air feels thin and all your joints are just a little further apart than they were before you started. Next off, Carl Barker is brimming with funky guitar and bass work, disjointed vocals and relentless, erratic drumming that must just be hell to keep time with at points. Like all the songs, the lyrical content runs in Motion City Soundtrack territory, a little whimsical, slightly self-involved but when delivered right, still keep the track flowing.

The Jiggler takes a new turn, and it’s definitely due, as this album had the potential to become a one beat record. This is one again, an unusual track, but the intention is clear. That DANCE GAVIN DANCE could benefit from it recognising that keeping to a tight format and then creating soundscapes within that structure to let their music flow, to make something fresh in what people already recognise is not only fun to work on as musicians, but something an audience really resonates with. This track has character in spades, allows every member to still produce a really interesting sound without the overcomplicated structures of some of the previous tracks.There are some of us that remember strange, long names being quite a thing back in the day for “alternative” musicians and bands, and Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine appears to fir into that category. Falling back into the same riff patterns again here, the boys plough through more screams and bright, chugging guitars. It’s a little early years You Me At Six in parts, and doesn’t really give itself much to work with in terms of originality.

Spooks is fairly impressive in its style, but the vocals just overrun this track so much so that a lot of the parts in the guitar work that are in fact pretty clever don’t really have much room to impress. Unfortunately frontman syndrome might have set in a little here, where there’s never a moment without some form of vocalisation, be is clean singing, rapping, or screams, which sometimes are just not strong enough to warrant drowning out the rest of the music. The end of the track heads towards a pretty impressive drum thrashing that takes some serious skill, but even then it’s somewhat too late to really make an impression. And I Told Them I Invented Times New Romans despite its stupid name is actually a very good song, with rolling rhyme behind the technicalities, flitting between groovy, chilled out playing, epic rock riffs (finally they drop!) and some really technical playing. The balance is pretty much found at the last moment with DANCE GAVIN DANCE, with a really full production feel, a track with some real guts to end off what can only be described as a mixed bag or a record.

There’s some way to go for DANCE GAVIN DANCE before they really discover who they are, and while they might be able to play some genuine hard hitters, it’s not truly realised in this album. This could have be an eclectic mix of tracks, but the odd mix of repetitive playing, occasionally overbeating vocals and a hazy focus means that this strangely named, frantic blend of track becomes a little bit lost to its own excitement. Once DANCE GAVIN DANCE pin down what their sound truly is, and masters keeping that style interesting for the listeners, they will have something really special and fresh.

Rating: 6/10

Dance Gavin Dance - Tree City Sessions

Tree City Sessions is out now via Rise Records.

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