Friday, 17 April 2009

Dananananaykroyd - Hey Everyone!

Dananananaykroyd - Hey Everyone! (*****)
album review for the skinny

Dananananaykroyd may be a little late to the party, but their stunning debut album has been well worth the wait

Could Dananananaykroyd be Scotland's best new band? Not exactly -- The Skinny first saw them in 2006, at that long-gone city centre festival Indian Summer, and their line-up has changed considerably since then -- so they're hardly "new". A debut EP, Sissy Hits, was set for release ages ago before their record label went bankrupt; it eventually elicited rapturous praise on release last summer. In the three years since they formed, they've made like a band from the future, taking the new model route of gigging to get by regardless of recorded output. They've toured across Europe and built up a deserved reputation as an awesome live band; but they've gone so far, in fact, that it's been easy for us back home to forget about them. With all the clamouring for FatCat's Scottish heroes and Edinburgh's burgeoning alt-folk scene, the absence of a Dananananaykroyd album has allowed them to drift away from Scottish music fans' awareness. Appropriately, Hey Everyone! addresses us all with an unforgettable force; it thrusts one hand round our necks, while the other cheerily waves hello.

But Hey Everyone! isn't really addressed to everyone. Dananananaykroyd are a post-hardcore punk band, with two drummers, two guitarists and two screamers - it'd be euphemistic to call them "singers". They wont please your parents, and they wont even please music fans who treasure qualities like clarity, ambience, poetic lyricism, or calm. They don't do that. Danananananykroyd do ferocious riffage, relentless rackets, noise enough to make you feel dead old. Vocalists Calum Gunn and John Baillie Junior can yelp like dying animals, but their style fits perfectly the unhinged thrash and percussive assaults coming from behind them. The drummers are used like dual guitarists - one on 'lead' sprawls full-range passages throughout each song, while another on 'rhythm' (!) can pound away for sheer power. They combine to amazing effect on songs like Pink Sabbath, where drum fills act as rhythm and melody, and Watch This, where light clickety-click fills propel the quieter sections. There are quiet sections -- there has to be, for respite's sake -- though for Dananananaykroyd, the whole group shouting from a few yards away, as in the start of Some Dresses, qualifies as quiet. It doesn't last long - Some Dresses climaxes with vigorous guitar punches, before 1993 launches into its Fugazi-like thrust.

But then 1993 breaks down into a gentle choral hymn -- "Turn your hissy fits, into sissy hits" -- and you realise that for all Dananananaykroyd's blunt abrasiveness, their construction of Hey Everyone! is pretty subtle. Short instrumentals begin both 'sides', and other tracks play trumps with each other on hooks or velocity or sanity, but every minute contributes to a riveting 45-minute whole. Hey Everyone! flows through peaks and troughs of pace and power, setting challenges up and laying resolutions down. It juxtaposes melody with strength and humour with earnestness. Dananananaykroyd are as youthfully boisterous as Los Campesinos!, and as battle-hardened as Trail of Dead, and their album teaches that what could be painful can actually be hugely fun. "Hey everyone!" they seem to be saying, like late arrivals to Scotland's new indie-rock party. With troubadours reaching for acoustic guitars and champagne hippies crashing out, it's the riotous gatecrashers who'll keep going til morning. Don't even think about flagging now.

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