Music, Print, Reviews March 3, 2014

Album Review: Thee Dang Dangs – For The People

by Jed Murphy

For the peopleInfused with the sounds of where the desert meets the ocean, Denver’s Thee Dang Dangs ride above the noise of surf and psych rock on their new album For the People. This four-piece garage fuzz band gives the Colorado music scene something else, something equally dark, and even reminiscent of Karen O’s work on David Lynch’s album Crazy Clown Time. Ok, there is a lot of noise on For the People and if you were going to put a label on it, call it shoegaze surf rock. But this album fills those shoes with sand and not the kind from the beach.

Vocalist and guitarist Rebecca Williams along with guitarist Ray Koren, drummer Scott Gervais, and bassist Matt Lane, have crafted a full body of work with For the People. It’s natural, it’s fun, and above all it pulls no punches. The anguish of it all is addicting and exciting, bringing out a lot of conflicting emotions that make for good listening.

“There are things that I have in there that are about my humanity and people’s humanity. It’s about being able to love and hate, feel sadness and regret and anger that comes out in my lyrics especially,” says Williams.

What cannot be denied is the surf rock aspect of For the People. With songs like “She Moves” and “Landlocked Surf Rock” at first it couldn’t be more apparent where the band is taking the album. What sounds like a group of Colorado kids faking a more coastal sound (kind of like going to a lake and pretending to be at the ocean), Thee Dang Dangs not so suddenly embrace the desert and everything makes a little more sense. This is not an album about surfing and beach parties, it’s about the long road under the hot sun just so you can tell people you stepped foot in the ocean.

thee dang dangsTo say it’s about the journey and not the destination is a cliché that would not do For the People the justice it deserves. Instead it’s more of a ‘sand in your eye, the ocean in your mind’ kind of album. Songs like “Lips Around Your Spine” and “She’s Stuck in a Rut” are aggressive and blistering, and Williams offers no apologies with a robust sultriness that relishing in heavy reverb allows for.

The second half of the album steps back the intensity and takes on more of a meandering feel where the band stretches their psych rock/shoegaze legs. “Dust of the Mojave” and “Pieces of You” feels like the drive down a dark desert highway on the way to some dusty town’s high school prom, and the instrumental “Pray For Rain” brings a closure that feels almost like the announcement of the end, letting the listener know to prepare for landing.

Ultimately though, with the final track “Sounds of Snow” we find the band in the safety and comfort of their home in the mountains, a little older, a little wiser, and exploring the sounds of the synthesizer, bringing them that much closer to center.

“We don’t want to be boxed in. We have a few songs we’re working on that have a little more synthy organ kind of stuff. We want to incorporate that more. We really love how we can have some songs that are more in your face and others that are more subdued for lack of a better term.”

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