Dance Gavin Dance - Tree City Sessions (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dance Gavin Dance

Tree City Sessions (2016)

Rise Records

Anyone catch another apology letter from Jonny Craig? Yeah, looks like once more, his antics usurp his talent. And it's great to see that Dance Gavin Dance don't have that baggage anymore. Reason being is that to be quite honest, they've struggled since Tilian Pearson took over as lead. It felt like they were making him live up to the ghosts of Craig and Kurt Travis, which really led to their later records like Acceptance Speech and Instant Gratification registering way off the mark for me. That said, this live album finds Pearson perfectly bridging the gap on the old singers, and then putting his own spin on things. Tree City Sessions is the first time I can say I feel optimistic about him helming the ship and a lot comes down to how impressive he's done on the live performances here of the older and more outstanding tracks.

He apes Travis on songs like "Alex English", "Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine" and "Tree Village", recapturing Travis' finesse and very open style. Pearson however finds a lot more room to flex his cleaner and more polished vocals, which fans of his solo stuff as well as Tides of Man would pick up on. Will Swann adds a lot more intricacies in his ever-eclectic guitars while doubling up on Jon Mess' screaming vocals. They both tone it down, surprisingly, and let Pearson run most of the show. Less abrasive and attempting to be more in sync with the melodies. Some of the other tracks were songs I couldn't care for because I really didn't like Pearson's take on the originals but he makes up for it, backed yet again by the dominating kitwork of Matt Mingus, to breathe life into "Lemon Meringue Tie" and "And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman" -- the two songs that set the bar for DGD and which I'll always hold their current standard to. Pearson owns it. They add in deft little twists and turns musically but not too much to take the songs in unwarranted directions. Eager to see Pearson run at new original stuff because it feels like they've found their ballast.