Settlefish - Dance a While, Upset (Cover Artwork)


Settlefish: Dance a While, UpsetDance a While, Upset (2003)
Deep Elm Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Back in March, I attended Deep Elm's Too Young To Die Tour. The label made it a family affair, with 5 of their bands making the cross country trek. One of their newest signings, Italy's Settlefish, was a part of the tour. Going into the venue, I had no knowledge of the band whatsoever, as their a.
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Back in March, I attended Deep Elm's Too Young To Die Tour. The label made it a family affair, with 5 of their bands making the cross country trek. One of their newest signings, Italy's Settlefish, was a part of the tour. Going into the venue, I had no knowledge of the band whatsoever, as their album had not been released at the time. Their live set was one of confusion for me: they played roughly 6 or 7 songs, the first 3 or 4 of which I completely hated. The band's sound was one of disjointed guitar and drums mixed with nonsensical lyrics - a sort of bad, post-rock version of American Football. Nothing jived at all. Then something changed. The last three songs the group played completely redeemed themselves to me, and rocked me senseless. The final track of the night was a simplistic jam with a heavily repeated bassline and thumping drums mixed with effects-heavy guitar and fiercely spat vocals. Very few times has a band turned me off so early on and yet made a comeback only thirty minutes later. Settlefish was the ultimate dark horse, and I looked forward to hearing their debut album.

A month and a half later, I now hold "Dance a While, Upset" in my hands, and I am just as puzzled. That last song from their live show is called "Breeze," I leanred, and it is the first track on this album. It sounds just as good recorded as it did live, and it even contains the trumpet flourishes that one of the guys from Desert City Soundtrack did during their set. But here's where the confusion set in - this was obviously the band's "signature" song - why make it the opening track? Was there any way they could top it with the next 9?

Well, no. But a couple of the songs come mighty close. Second track "Blindfold The Leaves" is an uptempo rocker with neat hamonic basslines and a guitar part that sounds like the strings are just ready to burst at any minute. So far, Settlefish is 2-for-2.

"On Symmetry Pebbles" showcases the band's softer side, but still delivers the emotional crescendos Deep Elm bands are known for [similar to the Appleseed Cast's first album]. The group does an admirable job for the next handful of tracks, but ideas tend to recycle themselves more than once, making the band sound more like an At The Drive-In ripoff than anything else.

Until the last song, that is.

"Northern Town" is a smoldering, 10 minute long epic that reminds me of Breaking Pangaea's "Turning," in that both, while being 10 minutes long, keep your attention the whole time. Settlefish packs this song full of everything they have, and it shows. Many moments bring to mind images of Fugazi, with their arpeggiated guitar noodling. It's a hell of a way to end the album.

All in all, this is a really good album from this Italian five-piece, and it's even more impressive when you realize it's their debut album. Potential is scattered rather frequently throughout this disc, only making me crave their return to the States more. There's a lot of good ideas here, and if you give them a chance, Settlefish might just be your dark horse, too.

On Symmetry Pebbles [clip]
Scream At Horizons [clip]
Artificial Synapse [clip]


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
pinkerton (December 21, 2006)

wow, this shit is terrible. it came in the mail with a deep elm cd "sale". i mean its really bad.

everything about this record is bad. the vocals. the harmonies. the bass (which is actaully almost non-existstent in the mix) still manages to piss me off, and especially the drums. they all have very little talent.

dont buy this. ill give it to you.

Anonymous (May 15, 2003)

These guys are so good! I mean the album juts grows on you every day. The lyrics are sooo good.


travis (May 11, 2003)

The more I listen to this album, the more I love it.

Anonymous (May 11, 2003)

I went to that Rockford show too. It was cool.


maverick (May 11, 2003)

Well, this band isn't a pop-rock band by any means.

And a good majority of their songs cross the 5 minute barrier, anyway.


tenderbransonx (May 10, 2003)

I see this trend in music suddenly happening where a band will sound like a typical drive-thru or pop band and then tries to shed the lable by throwing one epic expirmental song on there. Cave in does it on their new album. They made a rock-pop album and then thru on a long song to show they could still do it. Others are doing this as well. I find it kind of annoying.
_steven www.murdertheturtle.com

Anonymous (May 9, 2003)

This album is fantastic. I got it I guess a month or so ago after I saw them at the same show (MD). It gets better with every listen. I definitely can't wait for them to come back and I can't wait for a second cd.


travis (May 9, 2003)

haha, im reviewing this right now for another site. it definitely is interesting.

maverick (May 9, 2003)

I saw them in Rockford.


Anonymous (May 9, 2003)

I thought these guys put on a good show. Which show did you go to?

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