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Music Review: Double Dagger – More

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A thumping, chaotic, strong flash of feedback and punk rock claustrophobia highlights Double Dagger’s More. As their third full-length LP, More is fascinating in its utter disregard for the norm.

Double Dagger, consisting of Denny Bowen, Nolen Strals, and Bruce Willen, has been dubbed “power pop” and even “angry pop” by genre hounds, but there is perhaps little good that can come out of attempting to describe this reckless throng of dexterous, energetic musicians with one or two fudged genre terms. Call them what you want; they probably don’t give a fuck.

At the end of the day, this Baltimore trio is like an off-the-wall group of preschoolers discovering that they possess stunning inborn proficiency with musical instruments and vocals. Technically sound as they might be, there is also that sort of gratuitous precociousness to consider and, ideally, revel in.

Recorded in a trashed office on the fifth floor of a building that houses Baltimore’s Current Gallery, More attempts to capture the frantic lunacy known as a Double Dagger live show and tries to pin it down so that it can be committed to record. It’s not an easy task, as gobs of the stuff leak out of the sides every so often, but for the most part this is a well-contained variation of a hopped-up little creature waiting to pop out of a secret box and tear us all to smithereens.

Interestingly, Double Dagger features only bass, drums, and vocals. Willen’s bass, cranked to all hell, does well to fill in any potential gaps while Strals’ vocals roar over the top. The insane drumming of Bowen hammers away. Of course, some additional tricks are used along the way, such as the deliberately cheap mics for effect or harmonium for soft droning texture.

Like our creature in the secret box, there are moments of calm right before another gnashing set of teeth tries to take your arm off. “Vivre Sans Temps Mort” is a pretty clear example of this, as the supple burn of strumming bass and harmonium lure the listener into a false sense of security right before Bowen’s drums pick up and Strals starts in.

And that’s really where the strength is within More. This great minimalistic, uncomplicated sound plays gruesome, broken-nosed post-punk. The vision of this magic being recorded in a fucked-up office isn’t lost, either, as tracks like “No Allies” and “Surrealist Composition With Your Face” take hold with their deep chunky instrumentations.

Dirty, messy, and economical just like punk rock music should be, Double Dagger’s More might have you stomping a hole through your computer monitor or stealing office supplies just to recapture a little slice of that blissful anarchy. Watch out for the creature in the secret box, though. Letting it out would be a huge mistake.

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About Jordan Richardson