DOG FASHION DISCO


"Committed to a Bright Future" (Spitfire Records; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

If my gig with Rough Edge ended tomorrow at least I'd have the satisfaction of knowing about Dog Fashion Disco before they ever hit the big time. I got exposed to the band with a four-song promo disc that they handed out after a Clutch show in Baltimore. I reviewed the band's subsequent release of their independent full-length, "The Embryo’s In Bloom." And then I had the pleasure of watching the band reach new heights on a major label with "Anarchists Of Good Taste" just over a year later. Another ladder of success has been met with this, their sophomore effort for a major label. I found myself eagerly anticipating Dog Fashion Disco's latest material despite my own musical tastes having continued in a direction away from Dog Fashion Disco's chosen path.

If you've heard Dog Fashion Disco in the past you'll instantly recognize almost every song on "Committed To A Bright Future" as a Dog Fashion Disco tune. Despite everyone's desire to tag Dog Fashion Disco as a nu-metal band and nothing but a nu-metal band I can honestly say that Dog Fashion Disco remains one of the most unique bands in nearly any genre. To me, Dog Fashion Disco is a heavy rock band with an affinity for releasing their musical quirks and out-of-the-ordinary metallic riffing in compact chunks.

Dog Fashion Disco has reined in the circus and freak carnival sounds without totally abandoning what truly makes the band unique. Compared to the band's prior efforts the band’s unique sound and style have evolved in a slightly altered, but still unique and inspired, form. The total impact of "Committed To A Bright Future" moves the band's sound a little bit more to the center without even the slightest hint of caving in to popular sounds or trends. The band's overall heaviness has been slightly reduced as well, but only for the benefit of adding even more colors to the overall crazed presentation.

Greg Combs guitar is as spastic and controlled as ever - yes, that's a paradox, but you'll know it when you hear it. Stephen Mears' bass thunder takes on a distinct Clutch vibe this time around - it's perfect for the songs on the album. Jeff Siegel's keyboards, as I mentioned before, ease up on the carnival and circus sounds without losing the band's unique stamp. Drummer John Ensminger does a solid job behind the kit - every good band needs a center and Ensminger handles the duties quite well. Todd Smith, as a vocalist and a lyricist, continues to impress. Smith's imaginative approach to lyrics makes the reading of the lyric sheet almost more fun than listening to the music. I can only describe Smith's lyrics as ordinary words twisted into unique puzzles of splattered images of a world warped by funny house mirrors. I think you get the picture so I won't go any further.

While listening to "Committed To A Bright Future" I still get the feeling that Dog Fashion Disco will continue to find success in an ever-continuing upward arc as they work their way through the minefields of the music industry.

"Committed To A Bright Future" was produced by Drew Mazurek. Mazurek, as always, does a masterful job capturing Dog Fashion Disco's energetic performances.

Dog Fashion Disco is Todd Smith on vocals, Greg Combs on guitars, Stephen Mears on bass, Jeff Siegel on keyboards, and John Ensminger on drums.

For more information visit http://www.dogfashiondisco.com


"Anarchists of Good Taste" (Spitfire Records; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

All right. It's 2001 and Washington, D.C.'s favorite sons are right on time with their major label debut "Anarchists Of Good Taste." Hot on the heels of a triumphant appearance on farmclub.com in late 2000, Dog Fashion Disco appear to be set to turn some heads nationally with their brand of twisted heavy music.

The band's unlimited potential that I spoke of in my review of "The Embryo's In Bloom" is even more apparent with "Anarchists Of Good Taste." Dog Fashion Disco have a fire-and-burn mentality that slashes the guts of safe rock with a daring style that may be unparalleled in the new millennium. Dog Fashion Disco's music still remains impossible to categorize. The modern aggro-sound is still there; however, it retains a sound that's too unique to be lumped in with the copy-cat, cookie-cutter formula dregs poisoning their way through commercial Middle America. Dog Fashion Disco's inspirational nods to Mike Patton (and his various musical outfits) and Frank Zappa only serve as the genesis for DFD's warped consciousness. There's more to Dog Fashion Disco than I could ever adequately explain here.

Three tracks from the out-of-print "The Embryo's In Bloom" make their re-recorded appearance here. Nothing is dramatically different although the sound has been beefed up and the keyboards are markedly different due to the new keyboard player's influence. This trio of songs ("Leper Friend," "9 To 5 At The Morgue," and "Corpse Is A Corpse") still retain the left-of-center charm that made them so unique in the first place. 

For me, however, it was the band's new stuff that I was really looking forward to. I'd heard most of the new tracks in the live setting about a year ago so, but time and my own limited memory made me forget the songs themselves - you can bet I was kicking myself for that transgression. The new songs continue Dog Fashion Disco's strange trip to a suburban hell where the music is the material of fruitful dreams (or were they nightmares?).

The disarming "Headless" could strike fear into the staunchest of souls. Serj Tankian of System Of A Down lends his unique voice to the treacherous, occasionally evil sounding, stomp of "Mushroom Cult."  "Pour Some Urine On Me" provides a yin-yang of epic proportions and the speedy rave of "Valley Girl Ventriloquist" gives you an idea of what a bad acid flashback might be like. "Vertigo Motel" is lounge-y jazz send-up not quite heard before in the heavy music world. 

Damn, I love these lyrics, too. I only wish they made sense to me! The lyrics pry their way into a world populated by hermaphrodites, cyclostomes, shallow graves, porcelain angels, malicious riddles, vertigo hotels, and dysfunctional genitals. If you're thinking to yourself "that's a strange world" you would be right; so sit back and enjoy the journey. 

After "Anarchists Of Good Taste" ends, it is damn near impossible to not hit the "repeat" button. That's how much I like it. 

"Anarchists Of Good Taste" was produced by Drew Mazurek (Nothingface, click.) and Dog Fashion Disco.

Dog Fashion Disco is Todd Smith on vocals, Greg Combs on guitar, Stephen Mears on bass, John Ensminger on drums, and newcomer Jeff Siegel on keyboards. Serj Tankian (System Of A Down) does guest vocals on "Mushroom Cult" and Matt Rippetoe contributes saxophone, flute, and clarinet. 

For more information visit http://www.dogfashiondisco.com


"The Embryo's In Bloom" (Outer Loop Records; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Dog Fashion Disco is a modern metal band with many surprises that tickle the listener's ear. "The Embryo's In Bloom" is an eclectic sonic extravaganza that is virtually indescribable. With a solid base in the aggro-metal vein DFD add touches of ska, reggae, punk, and hardcore - this combination forms an indestructible alloy. For those of you who enjoy their metal bolstered by surreal lyrics, furious guitar attacks, interesting keyboards, and enough open spaces to let the music breathe, then Dog Fashion Disco have a few things they'd like you to hear.

Dog Fashion Disco have combined Korn's anger, Tool's radical approach, Ozzy Osbourne-like gothic elements, Vision of Disorder's intensity, and curious circus sounds to set forth on a path previously traveled by no one. It's rare that a disc stays in my CD player for more than a few days - this one hasn't left my CD player for over two weeks and there's no sign of it dropping out of rotation either.

Wide sweeping arcs of fury, subtle inferences of fear, and oblique terror caused by trauma characterize this unforgettable debut. "The Embryo's In Bloom" features a multitude of tempo changes and countless tantalizing shifts in mood and atmosphere without ever sounding cluttered or confused. The ten tunes display a flair for the unusual and a knack for creating unprecedented musical territory in the hard rock and heavy metal realm.

Hard hitting songs like the frantic "Siamese Fever," the raging "G Eye Joe," and the killer grooves of "Leper Friend" showcase the band's ability to craft interesting songs. "G Eye Joe" alone is enough to make me want to start my own Internet pirate radio channel. Also, "Pervert" manages to out do Korn and Limp Bizkit at their own game without resorting to cheap tactics like the use of profanity - the solid rhythms are a jovial bonus. The potential of Dog Fashion Disco is readily apparent from even a cursory review of the band's work.

Like a good William Burroughs novel, the lyrics are a collage of twisted images and wordplay that must be constructed from the most unlikely of places. Dog Fashion Disco dive headlong into such lyrical topics including, but not limited to, gun violence, recurring nightmares, abortion, 9 to 5 living, and religious hypocrisy; it might sound like a jumbled mess but it makes the songs quite interesting.

Dog Fashion Disco is Todd Smith on vocals, Greg Combs on guitar, Sennen Quigley on keyboards and guitar, Steve Mears on bass, and John Ensminger on drums and percussion. Dog Fashion Disco produced "The Embryo's In Bloom" themselves with the help of Drew Mazurek (who has worked with Nothingface, click., and Compression). The production is excellent and the sound quality of the disc is outstanding, but I expect that from any work where Drew Mazurek is involved. I wish the vocals could have been a little more up front in the mix, but this is by no means detracts from the overall listening experience.

Visit the band at http://www.dogfashiondisco.com/ and join the circus.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 


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