by Yazan Fahmawi
Kissed by an Animal is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based artist and musician Dima Drjuchin. Drjuchin might be best known for his distinctive illustrations, having produced album art for acts like Father John Misty, Reggie Watts, and Brad Mehldau. However, he has been steadily releasing his own music with different projects for almost 20 years, spanning from hardcore punk to psychedelic pop. Drjuchin as lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist lets his love for 90s slacker guitar rock and dance punk shine on his new band’s first release. Crunchy power chords, big hooks, and searing guitar leads, all sprinkled with some chewy bits of sonic weirdness make this release a charming and strangely familiar listen. The band’s rhythm section, filled out by Brooklyn indie music stalwarts Jonathan Daily (The Black Black) on drums and Tsugumi Takashi (Van Goose, Old Monk) on bass, brings a fun and driving energy to Drjuchin’s songs, still giving him plenty of room to ply the listener with his rambling, screaming guitar leads.
Leading with the supremely catchy ‘Lemonade’, Drjuchin quips about life and success with equal parts sourness and sweetness, punctuating his pleas with some help from his guitar. On ‘Don’t Give Me That Face’ Drjuchin could just as likely be singing to a disgruntled customer as he could his dog Glitter. The driving beat brought to you by Daily takes the song's Dinosaur Jr-inspired foundation and turns it into something you can move to. ‘Floating Head’ gives you insight into Drjuchin’s inner dialogue, highlighting his own self-doubt and curiosity about his own existence in between some J Mascis inspired shredding. His tone turns slightly melancholy on the Neil Young inspired ‘Animal,’ where he simultaneously wrangles with the impact of time travel while pondering his own primal nature.
On ‘The Good Times are Here Again’ Drjuchin is his most confident, penning some of his mysterious wisdom “When no one sees you/ no one is holding you back” embedded into a tune that is among the band’s most original and exciting tunes. The video, which was animated and directed by Drjuchin, is a fast-moving colorful gem, loaded with visual treats and easter eggs and resembling an iPod commercial made for casual fans of psychedelics. ‘Vision Quest’ follows up with a concise Misfits inspired psychedelic blast, where Drjuchin repeatedly admits that he’s on a journey for new ways of seeing the world and experiencing its ‘infinite oneness’.
With ‘In the Clouds’, the band enters a new phase of its trip, calming the energy and featuring some very sweet slide guitar leads. “Are you feeling it? Cuz I’m feeling it” Drjuchin admits to and asks of the listener, acknowledging that we’re all deep in this trip together by this point on the record. ‘Squirrel Song’ is about Daily’s “squirrel-friend,” a sometimes guest that appears on his fire escape begging for peanuts. Concluding with ‘Right Now,’ an 80s pop inspired romp with some very sweet bass from Takashi, Drjuchin touts the big lesson from the journey he’s taken us on: live in the present moment, and appreciate life while you have the presence of mind to do it.
Kissed by an Animal celebrates its record release with a party and show at East Williamsburg Econolodge on July 26 with Shadow Monster, The Planes, and Nihiloceros.
Here’s a video: