Dismemberment Plan

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! , 6/10
Is Terrified , 6.5/10
Emergency and I , 7/10
Change , 6/10
Travis Morrison: Travistan (2004), 5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Dismemberment Plan is simultaneously the culmination of the evolutionary parable of Washington's hardcore scene, the belated integration of new wave and punk-rock (25 years later), and proof that "pop creativity" is not a contradiction in terms. Continuing the program of Jawbox and Shudder To Think, the quartet of vocalist Travis Morrison, guitarist/keyboardist Jason Caddell, bassist/keyboardist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley has coined an emotional and romantic post-punk sound.

The style of ! (DeSoto, 1995) is hardcore that has roots in the Ramones (Soon To Be Ex-Quaker) but has experienced the bouncing pop of XTC and B52's (IF I Don't Write, I'm Going to Buy You a Gun). Abrasive guitars, angular rhythms, schizoid vocal harmonies, unstable dynamics (The Small Stuff, OK JOe's Over, Survey Says, with a bizarre 5/4 time signature) display similarities with Soul Coughing, and Brainiac.

Morrison steals the show on Is Terrified (DeSoto, 1997), an album that is both less violent and less extravagant than their debut, but perhaps better bridges the gap between hardcore and noise-rock. The standouts (That's When The Party Started, This Is The Life, Doing The Standing Still, Tonight We Mean It) sound like the work of a singer songwriter casually backed by a bunch of friends.

Emergency and I (DeSoto, 1999) benefited from a lavish production and upped the ante in many ways. A sci-fi concept album, it engages in all sorts of studio witchcraft and succeeds in integrating elements of hardcore, new wave, funk, soul and hip hop. a fusion spanning three generations of quirky pop: Talking Heads (Back and Forth, 8 Minutes, Gyroscope), Pixies (A Life of Possibilities, The Jitters), Brainiac (Spider in the Snow, the anarchic I Need a Magician, the 5/4 meter of Memory Machine).
The idea of the colossal riff that comes out of nowhere is brought to new heights in What Do You Want Me to Say? and You Are Invited, by their sudden, monstrous tsunami of guitars and roaring passion.
The exuberant, layered techno-funk of Talking Heads' Remain in Light is wed to the unbalanced emotional outpours of Nirvana's Nevermind.
Extremes rule, both inside the same song and across the whole album. The relatively sprightly and simple power-pop of What Do You Want Me to Say is mirrored by the desolate, complex cry of The City.

Unfortunately, the "lighter" side of Dismemberment Plan seems to prevail on Change (Desoto, 2001), whose Sentimental Man and Following Through are simply radio-friendly XTC-derived tunes. The band diversify beyond belief, experimenting with soul (The Face Of The Earth, with dub bass), funk (Superpowers), drum'n'bass (The Other Side, with Talking Heads overtones), blues (Pay For The Piano), while retaining the edge of grunge (Secret Curse) and hardcore (Time Bomb). Not much is left untried by this cauldron of stylistic extremes.

A People's History of The Dismemberment Plan (DeSoto, 2003) is a posthumous remix album.

Travis Morrison debuted solo with Travistan (Barsuk, 2004), which pretty much reneged on his previous career. This sounds like a college amateur playing generic alt-rock with an intellectual attitude.

Maritime was the supergroup of Dismemberment Plan's bassist Eric Axelson, Promise Ring's vocalist Davey von Bohlen, Promise Ring's drummer Dan Didier, and Jawbox's guitarist Jay Robbins that released Glass Floor (2004), We The Vehicles (2006), Heresy and the Hotel Choir (2007).

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