Dance Gavin Dance’s Downtown Battle Mountain has a lot going against it. First off, the band is signed to Rise Records, a label commonly associated with generic nü-screamo bands. Second, the band is technically one such band that could be relegated to that singing/screaming group. And last of all, the band used MySpace to rise to popularity. However, even with all these detrimental factors, Dance Gavin Dance are nothing like their label peers, sharing more in common with bands like Alexisonfire then Drop Dead, Gorgeous.
Straight from the beginning it’s apparent that Dance Gavin Dance isn’t as bad as you figured they would be. Thankfully missing on the album is the typical overuse of breakdowns and random keys/synth that normally appear on albums of this type. While the band may not be original, when you list out everything they actually do, Downtown Battle Mountain is light years ahead of the band's contemporaries.
The first high note here is the dual vocals of Jonny Craig and Jon Mess. Jon’s screamed vocals share more in common with the likes of Fear Before the March of Flames instead of the weak screams of other bands in the scene. As for Jonny’s vocals, his high-pitched singing may be imperfect with his voice occasionally cracking, but otherwise he is rather impressive. Mixing the surprisingly solid vocal combo with Sean O’Sullivan and Will Swan’s unexpectedly technical guitar attack and you’re left with an astonishingly solid nü-screamo album for once. It’s nice to see a band taking more of a musical influence from bands like the Fall of Troy instead of just writing carbon copy breakdowns and weak distorted guitar riffs.
But as for the songs, the album is littered with two types of songs. First are songs like "It’s Safe to Say You Dig the Backseat" and "Lemon Meringue Tie," which are flat out amazing and memorable in nearly every way. Then there are songs like "Strawberry Andre" and "Antlion," which are still good songs, but seem just to be there and lack the punch of some of the other songs. But the typical Dance Gavin Dance song includes a little Fall of Troy-style guitar work, some dynamic vocals, a catchy chorus, and the not-so-typical breakdown. While the album does feature breakdowns, they’re more of a ‘freak out’ moment instead of the same uninspired open chord breakdown that litters most albums nowadays.
If I had to compare Dance Gavin Dance to any band, I’d say they’re a cross between the Fall of Troy and Circa Survive, with a touch of Alexisonfire and Fear Before the March of Flames thrown in for good measure. Everything about Dance Gavin Dance would lead the listener to easily writing them off, but upon listening to the album, Downtown Battle Mountain is easily the year’s best album of this style and possibly one of the best albums to be released so far this year period.