by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
A band that thrives on boundless creativity can have a lot of fun with art-punk, case in point, Washington DC's Dove Lady. After a string of wildly divergent EPs that highlighted Jeremy Ray (guitar/vocals) and AJ Thawley (drums/vocals) chameleon approach to art-rock's visionary scope and post-everything's tangled mania, the duo are set to release their full length debut, One (out June 23rd via DZ Tapes and Inflated Records). If the EPs found Dove Lady experimenting to see exactly what they were capable of with a lack of concern for cohesion, than One is the culmination of two year's well-spent, a record that continuously shifts and squirms with the grace of a veteran band.
Dove Lady make the impossible seem impossible, a duo bred from the maximalism-out-of-minimalism school of punk thought. There's an excitement that pulses throughout the entire record, a chaotic and unpredictable album that recalls both glimpses of their hometown's finest bands (Shudder To Think, Faraquet, Beauty Pill) and the new breed of limitless art-rock weirdos (Caddywhompus, Fond Han, Palm). Which isn't to say they sound like any of those bands, but their DNA is about as strong as they come and as delightfully reckless as those peers may imply.
Opening with first single "7777," Dove Lady waste no time flexing their muscle, diving into a spastic post-hardcore spiral with jagged riffs, rhythmic shifts that bend space and time, and vocals that shout and howl one moment only to softly croon the next. It sets the tone for the album's warped structures and explosive willingness to confound, but doing so while making the complex shifts sound deceptively accessible. "Sunday" follows suit, built on angular contortions and the contrast of the song's dreamy vocals, that is until it combusts in the defiant hook, unfolding and recreating itself anew. Dove Lady are capable of dropping jaws at just about every turn, and it's best to pay close attention because it happens often.
"Carl Salesman" is pure magic, a song with divergent pieces that have no business together in any conventional sense, and yet not only do Dove Lady make it sound natural, they blur perception to make it sound almost obvious. Opening with creaking, squawking, jittery math-punk, the song unexpectedly resolves into a loose free-jazz swing and R&B centered harmonies. Just as the dust of the intro has settled, the band are back into tangled polyrhythms, eventually shifting once more into the record's most primal moment of punk aggression. Unpredictability rules everything around this record. "Drunk Bug" is another spectacular moment (on a record seemingly crawling with them), a disorienting and detuned intro creates mounting tension only to release into a caterwauling collapse, wriggling just as suddenly back into a singular line of cartoonish harmony before quickly devolving back into chaos. It's those brief earworms that highlight Dove Lady's charms, driving off the cliff with smiles plastered on their faces.
One is a difficult record to talk about without talking about all of it, a testament to it's many brilliant twists and turns. The cavalcade of sonic brilliance never ends and it never sits still, as radiant in syrupy fuzz detachment ("Uplifting Song") and warped prog-tinged funk ("Ferbalicious"), as it is with dreary noise pop freak-outs ("What's Wrong Roberta?"). By the time "Boar Switch" digs into it's hypnotic clamor, anything and everything is possible, and Dove Lady continue to dive further into the unknown, bouncing between spastic riffs and disjointed rhythms, embracing all that came before and all that is still to come. Want to feel excited about music? Listen to Dove Lady.
Dove Lady's One is out June 23rd via DZ Tapes and Inflated Records. The band celebrate the release the same night at DC's Hole In The Sky (RSVP) with Raygunomics and Sarah Snider.