Album release: Best Behavior by Dinowalrus
Release date: June 5 2012 (single Beth Steel out May 21 2012)
Label: Heist Or Hit Records
“Wondrous dance-punk” - Pitchfork
“Pure pop… Phone Home is astounding” - Pop Matters
NOTE: Best Behavior is the American title of the record and should be spelled as such on all reviews and coverage.
Best Behavior is the debut UK release from Brooklyn, NY’s Dinowalrus, fronted by visual artist and sometime guitarist of Titus Andronicus, Pete Feigenhaum, and backed by Max Tucker and Liam Andrew.
Best Behavior features a meticulous attention to song-structure, production and listenability - an experiment in pushing their interests in krautrock, house music, post-punk and psychedelic rock into their most condensed, vocal-driven, danceable, hooky and coherent form, without losing the unique mad-cap ambience and instrumental playfulness of their earliest material.
Starting with the punchy opening staccato organ stabs of The Gift Shop, Best Behaviour expresses the subtle optimism of Dinowalrus finding direction and focus, and also the energy brought about by new band-mates and collaborators. Meticulously written, but not over-thought and over-conceptualized: a welcoming point of entry into the band’s unique psychedelic world and historical roadmap. This is the band on its best behaviour.
While the band’s approach has evolved greatly as a result of their stylistic and personnel changes, their musical DNA has remained the same— the band used the exact same palette of analogue synth, guitar, sampler, drum machine (and occasionally sax) sounds in making this album. While their more free-form and noise influenced debut drew inspiration from the feral urban excitement of early 80s NYC no-wave dance music, the new record turns the clock forward and latches onto a few tricks and beats from the acid house phenomenon over here in the UK, finding new crossovers between psychedelic rock and dance music; reopening a strange, fun and vibrant chapter in music history that never quite reached American shores.
Dinowalrus draw heavily on the chemically enhanced beats, bass and organ textures of The Charlatans, and even The Stone Roses in places; but also retains their essential spacey Hawkwind, Eno, Bowie, Can and Sonic Youth allusions on the deeper album cuts. Mid-period New Order plays a significant influence as well.
With Primal Scream’s Screamadelica hitting its 20-year anniversary, now is an especially good time for an American band to attempt to bring guitar music and rave together again. And New York, often thought of as American’s most cosmopolitan and European city culturally, is the perfect environment for a rock band like Dinowalrus to be making such a unique appropriation of all things Manchester, Glasgow, Berlin and Ibiza - giving Brooklyn indie kids a new beat to dance to.
In a contemporary context, Best Behavior mediates nicely between the futuristic psychedelic synth-pop of Gang Gang Dance, Teengirl Fantasy, and Neon Indian, and the tried-and-true Anglophilic jangle-rock of Wild Nothing and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
The album was recorded in Brooklyn 2010 and 2011 with Nadim Issa and Matt Walsh (The Forms), and after a rotating cast of past drummers including Andy Bond (who would later join Friends) and Etienne DuGuay (who would later join Real Estate), features the sticks work of the Depreciation Guild’s Anton Hochheim, plus a brief cameo vocal appearance from longtime friend Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus on What Now. Remix work was done by Philly house mainstays Pink Skull, and Jez Kerr from 80s Manchester Factory Records post-punk legends A Certain Ratio.
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