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Sometimes They Bitch-A few of DHC's recent reviews.

Welcome fans of the Dance Hall Crashers--Reviews of DHC. Select an album below to go to the reviews.


It's easy as pie to swear allegiance to certain sounds and then regurgitate them, ad infinitum. Look at all the new `punk' bands who play cheap, watered-down versions of ska and reggae-sounds suspiciously like old Clash albums, right? Well, every great once in a fucking while some group actually assimilates its influences, digests `em in its system, and spits out a happy new hybrid that's like nothing you've ever heard before, nothing you can put your finger on. Porkpie hats off, then, to Berkeley's brainy Dance Hall Crashers, a neo-ska combo that's whipped so many sounds into its frothy punk batter that the recipe is unreadable. With a pair of Blondie-schooled female co-vocalists-Elyse Rogers and Karma "Karina" Schwarz (Denike)-and a couple of guitarists as adept at punk, New Wave, and power pop as they are at that old choppity-chop, happy-feet ska rhythm, this band is one of the freshest new faces on the cluttered alternative scene. From the bopping pep of "Queen For A Day" to the rude-girl raveup of "Too Late" to the pleasantly puerile chime of "Shelly," this stellar bow is jumping from beginning to end, the kind of album you can play for all your poseur Mohawked buddies next time they drop by to mooch beer. Watch `em scratch their spiky heads and mumble "Jeez, what kinda music IS this, anyway?" The best kind, dumbo-intelligent music.

Dance Hall Crashers have developed quite a bit over the past two years. While 1995's Lockjaw was full of competent but unremarkable ska, Honey I'm Homely is two-tone power-pop brimming with infectious hooks. The specter of gritty punk seems to be a thing of the past, with all of the fuzzy edges smoothed out and shined up. Have no fear, rude boy: You can still skank to Honey, I'm Homely, but you might have to learn a few new steps. Along with several bouncy numbers that are bound to give your neck a workout, you also get a few that display the band's depth of influences. "Next To You" is a breezy, piano-thumping tune that struts along with the verve of the Monkees' "Daydream Believer." Take away the punchy arrangement of "Last Laugh," and you have an early-'60s Brill Building hit. The quintet now knows when to let up on the gas for dramatic flair. Drummer Gavin Hammon sneaks nuance into rhythm parts that could have easily fallen into the 1-2-3-4 mold; his brother Jason layers his brassy rhythm parts with acid rock leads. The harmonies of Elyse Rogers and Karma Denikérecall everything from Bananarama's sassy soul to the Andrews Sisters' saccharine swing. It makes the `80s seem fun again.

For nine years now, Berkeley, California's Dance Hall Crashers (who took their name from a '60s Jamaican Ska anthology) have been working on the upbeat end of ska music, using guitars to propel their music rather than the big horn sections used by many other ska bands. The Crashers' last album, 1995's Lockjaw, led the band to tour with the likes of Bad Religion, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, NOFX and Pennywise. On Honey, I'm Homely, the group's anticipated new album, Elyse Rogers and Karma Denike's vocal harmonies take on a '50s-style pop sound, and the songs are both sarcastic and full of danceable fun The 15-song collection opens with the vibrant bounce of "Lost Again," whose pleading chorus goes, "I know where I wanna go/But I just don't know/Just don't know how to get there," and is set to a catchy rhythm with the chops to attract the No Doubt fanbase, although the Dance Hall Crashers aren't as purely pop. They are, however, all about a good time, which is evident in the album's swift, jump-up-and-dance pace. Some un-Homely favorites include: "Next To You," "All Mine," "Elvis & Me" and "The Truth About Me."

The Dance Hall Crashers' peppy, rough-and-tumble fourth album is an exhilarating good time, marked by the band's rascally spirit. Purr, a fun collection of 12 boisterous, ska-infused pop-punk jolts, is also the band's tightest effort to date. It begins with eye-opening immediacy, as rumbling drums kick into zippy, up-tempo punk rock. The strong harmonies of co-frontwomen Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike characterize these spirited tunes, which never slow up until the album-closing ballad, "Cricket." The rude set should be forewarned, however -- the record's energetic punk riffing and percussive shockwaves outweigh the toned-down syncopated rhythms.

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Page created on: 7/17/2000 - Last updated on: 7/19/2000