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CD Review: Free Diamonds – There Should Be More Dancing

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Is it too early in the year to start claiming “Top Ten Favorite” or “Top Five Debut Album” of the year? I hope not, because I see this album being listed in both of those categories for 2006 – at least in my books. March 28th will bring England’s own Free Diamonds debut album to America via Deep Elm records, and I don’t think us Yanks will be the same again.

There Should Be More Dancing suggests just that. The album cover is a pair of Converses with bricks tied to the bottom of them, which leads me to think of some abstract reasons as to why. Then I think of the easiest answer – people are too scared to just DANCE now a days! This is an album that in its most broad description would be called dance-rock or dance-punk, but that’s probably the only thing it has in common with its peers. I would really hate to limit Free Diamonds with this label because it is so much more. Speaking of labels, this release is far off the radar for Deep Elm, the label that is known for releasing “classic” emo and indie albums. There Should Be More Dancing proves that pigeon-holing and labeling music is now sillier than before.

Free Diamonds is a three-piece band made up of eccentric folks. Guitar/vocalist Scott Anderson’s voice is strange, off-kilter and at times, bratty. His guitar lines go from harsh and punky to clean and cheery. I’m glad to hear that the guitar is not the lead instrument on There Should Be More Dancing. The percussion section really steps it up and is prominent throughout the whole album. At times Paul Cosgrove’s bass playing is very groovy, and at other times it sounds like he should be playing upright bass in a jazz-trio. As a bass player myself, I am so glad to hear the bass really come through on the recording; it reminds me of Hot Water Music tracks like “Driving Home” and “Ebb And Flow.” Dave Morton’s infectious drumming holds Anderson and Cosgrove’s playing together – which at times seems like they are going in different directions but are headed towards the same goal.

There Should Be More Dancing begins with the irresistible “International Gathering of Champions,”, with Anderson referring to his bandmates as “a vampire who cannot fly” and “a werewolf who’s afraid to try.” After hearing this, you know you should be expecting half-ridiculous lyrics to match the obscure vocal delivery. Also see “The List Of Everyone” for silly lyrics: “there is a list of everybody I don’t like, alright/ Congratulations, you’re number one, two, three, four, five.” Anderson and Cosgrove share the vocal duties, and combined their voices sound like the singer of the Blood Brothers/Neon Blonde – if he actually sang instead of screamed. The down tempo “Blind Boys” contains the most autobiographical and emotional lyrics on the album, “I’ve gotta heart that keeps getting broken a lot/I’ve got a heart that I’ve gotta keep fixing a lot.”

“Lovers Die Young” and “The Day We Conquered,” sound like modern-day swing songs. While hearing these songs, I can just picture guys in zoot-suits and suspenders swinging women with beehive hairdos around them to the beat. Think the dance scene while Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is playing on stage in the movie Swingers. “The Day We Conquered” also combines two of Anderson’s vocal oddities that add to the overall weirdness of the album- his squealing of certain words, and whispering others. Dancing away from the swing vibe is the track “M Is For Missing,” which sounds like a modern day rockabilly tune, with a toe-tapping, simple drum line and ultra-catchy bass line.

The album’s stand-out track to me is “Cuban Heels, Cuban Deals,” which is a simple diddy with simple verses. What makes it stand out are the air-guitar inducing guitar lines, the stand-alone bass grooves, the head-nod drumming, and the spastic vocals. Another audio-weapon in Anderson’s vocal arsenal that is unleashed on this track is the stutter that he delivers with oh such genius – “smoking cigarettes in va-vintage, va-vintage c-c-c-c-cars.”

The album closes with “J.P.L.D.” and is as thrashy as the Diamonds get here. It’s a great closer, and I imagine this being played as an encore, ending a show while all amps and instruments get destroyed as the band unleashes all their unused energy. I shouldn’t say unused energy, because I sincerely believe these guys have A.D.D. and haven’t been taking their Ritalin.

If Bloc Party was 2005’s voice of dance-rock from the UK, then 2006 is the year for Free Diamonds. There Should Be More Dancing is a solid, fun, energetic debut that should land the band as much critical acclaim as it should land fans spazzing in their Converses on the dance floor. If critics can praise Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Wolf Parade because of their original vocal stylings, then Free Diamonds should be the next band on their radar and yours as well!

Free Diamonds will be coming across the pond to the United States for a three-week tour in April to support the release of There Should Be More Dancing. They will be playing in New York City three nights in a row, and I will be there all three nights – front row and getting jiggy with it.

Fans of Q and Not U and The Blood Brothers will love this album. If you are into such bands as We Are Scientists, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Clap your Hands Say Yeah, Wolf Parade, Neon Blonde or are into very energetic and fun music, then this album is for you.

For more information, tour dates, and MP3s please visit Free Diamonds homepage or their label at Deep Elm records.

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