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Posted at 5:52 PM ET, 07/25/2007

New Music From Local Bands

By David Malitz

There's more new music to be heard from local acts that will be on area stages soon. This week find out about (and listen to) new music by pop-punk upstarts the Dance Party, psych-popsters Donny Hue and the Colors and one of Baltimore's best, Double Dagger.

The Dance Party - "Friction! Friction! Friction!"
Next Show: Friday, July 27, Black Cat
I've been on the fence about the Dance Party since they first started gaining notice around town for pop-punk ditties like "Nintendo Power" and "Daniel LaRusso Is Going to Fight." It was hard to take them too seriously, but then again, were you really supposed to? (Lead singer Mick Coogan's appearance in the Post's Date Lab -- "[My life's] like one big party right now." -- just helped support this.) The local quartet's debaucherous, over-the-top demeanor can be grating, but they'd probably be the first to admit that, and it certainly sets them apart from the serious/brooder sect of local rockers. You don't call your band the Dance Party, have songs with choruses like "It's midnight and we're wasted!" (from "Nintendo Power," which appears on this album) and then go and act subtle. It's not the only tune that deals with getting wasted, and song titles such as "Lipstick," "Sex Disco" and "New Wave Drugz" give you a good idea of the themes that run through "Friction! Friction! Friction!" So it's not exactly the most high-minded material, but the majority of these songs grab you with big hooks. The pull may come from Coogan's vocals, spiky guitar or a keyboard riff that will stay lodged in your head. Everything is much more Warped Tour than Lollapalooza, with plenty of muted guitars and soaring choruses, and it all sounds as squeaky clean as can be. It's a pretty savvy mix of new-wave nostalgia and pop-punk energy coated in an indie veneer. That of-age clubgoers already make up a big portion of the group's audience puts them ahead of the curve because the Dance Party is a lot closer to the next Blink-182 than the next Interpol. And that's a good thing.

Donny Hue and the Colors - "Folkmote"
Next Show: Saturday, July 28, Velvet Lounge
Donny Hue is the nom de guerre for Ed Donahue, former guitarist for ragged garage rockers the Carlsonics. When that band split up, most of the group continued as Nethers, a wonderfully nifty psych-folk outfit. Donahue went another direction, but in a way he went in the same direction. "Folkmote" inhabits much of the same territory as Nethers' "In Fields We Will Lie" and makes a pretty good companion piece. Like that album, there's one standout pop tune, "Real Long Time" (listen below). While it isn't the most representative track on the album, it is clearly the most immediately pleasing. The rest of "Folkmote" is a sweetly psychedelic journey, from the breezy, drum-free atmospherics of "For the Last Time Beatrix, It's Toast!" to the next number, the hypnotic, jaunty "Peter and His Puzzle." "Mountain Piece" is another winner and should appeal to fans of ornate folk-rockers Okkervil River and Shearwater. There are seven members of the Colors credited in the liner notes, and it's hard to tell exactly what any of them are doing at a single time, but there is always plenty going on in the background. Things never get too cluttered though, as Donahue's understated pop charms are always at the forefront.

Double Dagger - "Ragged Rubble"
Next Show: Wednesday, Aug. 1, Rock and Roll Hotel
One of the toughest things about being an amazing live band is transferring the in-person experience to CD. And there aren't many better live bands than Baltimore trio Double Dagger. Just check out the mayhem the vocals-bass-drums trio inspired at Baltimore's Whartscape festival last weekend. There's simply no way to recreate that infectious live energy, but the aptly-titled "Ragged Rubble" comes pretty close. The intense low-end roar is all there, and it's a perfect match for the roar of singer Nolen Strals. He rails against the gentrification of Baltimore on "Luxury Condos for the Poor," the Iraq war on "Army vs. Navy" and celebrity-obsessed society in "Camera Chimera." He can switch from agitated speak-sing to ferocious howl at a moment's notice (check out "Luxury Condos" below) and that's when things really kick into high gear. It's music with a message, not unlike Fugazi, but it's the way the band's three elements work together to create a unique sonic assault that makes "Ragged Rumble" work so well. It's amazing how a band with no guitar can sound so loud, but with bassist Bruce Willen (and some helpful overdrive pedals) and drummer Dennis Bowen as locked in as they are, you never miss the presence of the six-string. This is the kind of record that probably won't make it onto the radar of too many people, but will leave a lasting impression on those who take the time to listen.


By David Malitz  | July 25, 2007; 5:52 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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Thanks for the review! Name of the album is "Ragged Rubble" though.

Posted by: DOUBLE DAGGER | July 31, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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