(www.denelianmusic.com) Denelian – Gossip with the Devil EP
Artsy, interesting dance-punk songs that continue the evolution of a band.
Denelian’s dance-punk songs have evolved from ‘80s mimicry in the band’s early days to blazing, angular vendettas in their last few releases. In Gossip with the Devil, Denelian straddles both worlds and produces some interesting outcomes.
Denelian opts for more synth action this time around, employing them prominently in each of the four tracks on Gossip with the Devil. These songs aren’t as immediately accessible as Denelian’s previous work, as the synth-heaviness takes some time to integrate with the rest of the sound. It’s not that people haven’t used synths in dance-punk before – it’s that the specific tones that Denelian uses have a very soft, whispery tone to them. They aren’t the ferocious, biting tones of Mommy and Daddy or even the piercing, shrill tones of the sadly defunct Mon Frere. These sound more like flutes. I’m not kidding. Check out the middle and end of “A Good Morning for an Ending” to see what I mean.
It’s not that these songs don’t have the oomph that Denelian used to have – the aforementioned “A Good Morning…” has a substantial amount of bass pulsing. “The Paycheck Makes the Man” has thrashy drums and a great forward-moving beat. It’s just that on top of the usual dance-punk missives, there are these odd synths. At first I was determined to hate them, but as I listened to the tracks, I got used to them and even like them in places (“Paycheck…” being one of those places).
Synth use isn’t the only experimentation going on. “It’s a Funeral, What Did You Expect?” plays liberally with the use of vocals, jamming syllables into places they don’t fit and generally making mincemeat of preconceived notions of how you should arrange words in songs. Other than the vocal acrobatics, the song is the most straight-forward of the four here, sounding most like the old Denelian I’ve come to expect.
Closer “A Summer Heist” is my favorite track here. It uses the synth noises to create a film-noir-esque mood for the song, while using the snare-heavy beat and squawking guitars to create the paranoia of a bank robber on the lam. The great background vocals and stellar pacing of the song only contribute to the claustrophobic, nervous mood. The song is danceable, but even more than that, it’s listenable if you’re not dancing. With “A Summer Heist,” Denelian has moved out of the realms of a fantastic dance band into a band you can listen to on the road, on your bike, at your computer, or whenever.
Denelian’s experimentation has paid off in a different type of song for them. They’ve set for a long time in the “we can and WILL make you dance” arena; now they’re moving into writing straight-up good songs. I’m excited to see how this arm of their songwriting develops. Until then, I’ll keep dancing to “The Paycheck Makes the Man.”
Rock that ensues dancing, and sing-a-longs that are catchy in a good way.
“Move your hips to the sound of Apocalypse” because Denelian is releasing maybe the best sound to come out of Seattle since Nirvana, and that’s got to mean the world is upside down.
The Seattle based band really sticks to its geography. The singer’s monotonous tone rings of the drab weather and the urban life of Seattle, but the gritty melodies could sound like the emotions caught up in the fog over the damp city. In Seattle you can’t quite see the mountains through the low hanging clouds, but you can hear the people buzzing underneath like Denelian’s sound. Each member of the band brings an important and unique part to their sound. The drums carry our feet to dance, and then are exemplified by the creepy sounds of the electronics makes for an instant attraction. The guitar carries with the singer, both monotonous but still having the quality of being human.
There is an underlying dirty but cleanness in Denelian. Their melodies are smooth, sometimes so perfectly rounded it could almost be white noise, the good kind. Coupled with the monotonous voice of the singer, it fits hand in hand. In “It’s Nothing Personal We’ve All Got to Eat” I can’t help but become entranced by Denelian’s slow creep through out the song.
Denelian is a well-oiled machine coming out of the Seattle fog. They layer and intertwine without being caught into that horrible web of being cheesy. They allow their listeners to dance and sing and at the same time make their music just as easy to listen to alone. Denelian says “dance!” but also has a quiet call to action that makes this irresistible.
They have an ambience that’s eerie and dark but poppy enough to make it benevolent. I was skeptical at first when I heard “Am I Down or Are You High?”. I thought they had a direct influence from She Wants Revenge but Denelian is lighter than that, it’s the context that makes the difference. They have a hint of new wave like the Birthday Party, a creepy happiness.
Denelian hasn’t reached their best yet and I am glad to say that because with what they have got now I can not wait to see what that would look like. See them live, dance with them in your car, or just put on your head phones and appreciate what there working for, just hear them!
Denelian – Demos
When I last reviewed Denelian, their spot-on re-creation of the 80’s synth pop sound amused and confused me. I dedicated the entire review of False:Positive to eighties references, and ended the review assigning Denelian to those who like the new wave revival that’s going around. I didn’t even give it a thought that they might eventually break out of their 80’s-worship and, well, get modern.
Boy, has Denelian ever proved me wrong. Shedding the Joy Division and Cure comparisons like a soiled coat, Denelian’s dark, furious stomp now bears more connections to Nine Inch Nails than those pretty boys in the mascara, although neither comparison really peg them well any more. From start to finish, this album oozes an urgency, intensity, and reality that was sorely absent from their last EP. Everything has pop and bite on these new demos, from the thrashing drums to the searing synths to the gritty guitars to the thick yet very clear bass to even those dour vocals (which still sound new-wave – it’s hard to change a vocal style). Where it was campy and gauche last time around, now it’s prescient and arresting. This is, in all intents and purposes, a completely different band with a completely different sound.
The sound is produced in a much louder, rawer way, lending an authenticity to these demos that makes even “Inside” – a song that would fit in perfectly on False:Positive in terms of songwriting style and melodic construction – sound like a slicing, voracious monster. It’s the least vicious of the five tunes, and it still sounds ominous and dangerous. This, if you couldn’t tell from the glee oozing out of these words, is a fantastic development.
When Denelian really goes for it, as in “Bankrolled and Bitten,” they create a raucous, rowdy, fuzzy noise that not only could inspire dancing, it could inspire violence. It even inspired a crowd to form in my room, as people from down the hall were drawn to this loud, jarring, propelled noise. The junk noise and bongos that Denelian throw into “Bankrolled and Bitten” are two things I never in a million years would have pegged Denelian to even try, much less successfully pull off. Heck, I don’t think there’s been a dance-rock band in recent history that’s pulled it off as totally convincingly as Denelian does.
All of these five tracks burn and break with a passion that didn’t exist before. Some tracks, like “Bankrolled and Bitten” and “Ten Thirty-One Was Always Her Favorite Day” call up comparisons to dance-punk greats like The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem. I can’t impress upon you how awesome it is that I can say that, and how excited I am that I am able to say that.
That’s not to say these songs are perfect, as there are some imperfections (beyond the planned ones in “Bankrolled” and the ‘let’s sound spontaneous’ herky-jerky beginnings of “Wealth of a Nation” and “Inside”) that thunk and then move on. But when the prodigal son comes home, you don’t immediately tell him that his clothes are dirty. You rejoice! And that’s what I’m doing.
Denelian must have taken some “Awesome Pills” or something, because they’re nothing like they were before. Denelian is a well-oiled, shimmy-inducing dance-punk machine that uses new-wave the right way: as a stepping stone and not something to be imitated. I am extremely excited to see what Denelian produces from here on out – they’ve really snapped themselves into shape and aligned themselves squarely on my “bands to watch” list.
Band Name: Denelian
Album Name: False:Positive
Best Element: Spot-on re-creation of the 80’s sound
Genre: New Wave Revival
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: email@example.com
Y’know, here’s to hipster-ism. I’ve actually called out a band or two on having Joy Division or New Order roots before, and yet I’d never heard either band except for the most cursory listens (radio play, etc). But when I heard Denelian, I heard a sound that sounded so vintage 80’s that I had to go back and listen to both bands to prove to myself that I wasn’t being completely off-base by calling Denelian a band that belongs in 1985.
I’m not. Denelian is so in touch with their 80’s new-wave roots that the only band that sounds more like New Order might be She Wants Revenge. That said, this is a decent album– it just makes me feel a little bit lost in time
There’s pretty much everything you’d expect in a new-wave band- buzzy, sweeping synths; low-pitched, deadpan, warbling vocals; blocky beats; ringing guitars; perky bassist. One of the few things that differentiates Denelian from their 80’s brethren is the use of real drums, which provides a human aspect to tracks such as “Lost # 2 (In a Room)” and “Fallen Apart.” “Fallen Apart” is the track that calls into play whether Denelian might be the bridge between Coldplay’s X&Y and New Order’s Low-Life, as the modern production attached to the vintage sound sounds surprisingly like something that might appear on Coldplay’s newest album.
“Lost #1 (In the Bowery)” features some very excellently done piano, but the background synths and the vocals make it unable to shake 80’s comparisons. “Kiss Me” and “When I’m Quiet Enough to Hear Your Heart Beat” are pure 80’s pop – think “Friday I’m In Love” or “In-Between Days” by the Cure. It’s really uncanny how well they’ve studied the 80’s sound, and it makes for extremely fun listening, as these two tracks are the highlight of the EP.
Denelian’s EP False:Positive sounds like the 80’s, but if you like the 80’s sound, you should be rejoicing. They’re very good at what they do, and you will enjoy it. If you’re not a fan of the 80’s or the new wave revival that’s going around (should we call it old wave by now?), then you may want to check out some other electronic artists instead.