Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strange Stuff From Philadelphia Part 2.

This is the second part of the CD's that Bruce from Dangerbird and Hulk Smash has send me. (Thank you again, Bruce!)
Dangerbird is like Hulk Smash also a bit Strange, hard to compare with anything. But Dangerbird is more heavy and depressive. If I compare this with Hulk Smash, I must say I like Dangerbird some more. The guitar is better and so are the vocals. The highlight of Homestead is the song No Hope On Hope Street.
In this post there is also a second download: The Dangerbird Demo from 2007. Enjoy both and let me know what you think by leaving a comment!

It seems at first an unassuming full-length that Philadelphia contemplative rockers Dangerbird have come up with for Homestead (SRA Records), and on some levels it is. The music isn’t especially overbearing or heavy (at least for the most part), they don’t hammer home riff-based groove after groove, and the overall earthy feel of the music lends itself more to emotional warmth than to any kind of technical chill. There are sweet sub-melodies in the guitars and vocals, and though the back half of the record shifts tone significantly from the front, some semblance of flow is maintained.

The four-piece, which as of this recording was comprised of BJ Howze (guitar/vocals), Mouse Dascher (guitar/vocals), Joe Bats (bass, since replaced by Nick Conway) and Colin Smith (drums/vocals) first adapt ‘90s s t y l e indie rock into a droning or stoner feel, then take a turn toward Neil Young-esque organic guitar pieces beginning with “Snowed In,” track four of the total seven. “Frank,” “Alien+Cop” and the title track which precede it are heavier sound-wise. Even “Homestead,” which begins to display the directional adjustment the record is soon to take, keeps a heavy load of feedback and thick riffing. Nonetheless, it’s clear throughout Homestead that Dangerbird are children of the ‘90s alternative movement, and by that I don’t just mean grunge. There’s some of that teenage melodrama working its way into “Hiram,” but there’s nothing quite so postured about the band as to warrant any Seattle comparisons -- except maybe their methodology for incorporating the aforementioned Neil Young influence, for which acts like Pearl Jam were well known in their beginnings.

Vocally, aside from the harvest mooning, Dangerbird make use of that indie whine that’s perhaps most often attributed to Violent Femmes, but in the context of a heavier rock, it makes for an interesting if not always totally congruous match up. The songs feel loosely structured, even when they aren’t, which speaks to a uniqueness of s t y l e, and though “Sad Waters” receives a quieted enough lead-in from “Hiram,” the song soon picks up with a subtle country twang that adds an Americana feel to Homestead that Dangerbird have yet to explore with such gusto. “Sad Waters” is also the catchiest of the Homestead tracks and shows that when they want to, the band can make traditional songwriting seem easy.

Homestead finishes out with “No Hope on Hope Street,” and if I haven’t yet mentioned Neil Young, I’ll do it one more time. The track is slower and offers a return to the thicker moments of “Frank” and “Alien+Cop” without being redundant. At just over 11 minutes, it is the longest song on the album, and maybe also the most hypnotic. Dangerbird border on some social commentary with the lyrics, but not so much as to dull the music’s affect. Overall, Homestead is made remarkable by its natural feel (the band recorded at least the basic tracks live and it shows). There are blemishes here and there that come up, but by and large it’s a worthwhile experience that leaves one to wonder how Dangerbird will develop over their next batch of songs. It won’t be for everyone, those looking to bang their heads and hoist their beers to Odin will probably want to keep moving, but Homestead establishes itself with a clear sound and execution that takes a not-often-heard approach to the conventions of underground heavy music.

(By JJ Koczan at

Dangerbird - Homestead (2008)

DOWNLOAD The 2007 Demo

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