Post-hardcore legends Dance Gavin Dance have been tearing up the states with their unique blend of angelic clean vocals, the (Jon) messiest of screamed vocals, infectiously funky basslines and impeccably complex riffs since 2005. However, here in the UK, they still aren’t getting the attention they deserve; to celebrate the release of their fantastic new music video for Son Of Robot, and hopefully pull in a few new fans, here’s the top ten songs from Sacramento’s finest.
10. Son Of Robot
We’ll kick off this list with one of the band’s most recent singles, and its accompanying music video, animated by long-term artist for DGD, John Howe. This year’s Artificial Selection was yet another triumph for DGD, and the album begins with the calm guitars of this track, quickly dashed to smithereens by Jon Mess’ iconic screamed vocals. The chorus is utterly anthemic and impossible not to sing along to.
9. Young Robot
When Mothership, the band’s seventh full-length, was released in 2016, it seemed that DGD were absolutely unstoppable. This song perfectly captures the album’s vibe; the insanely funky verses, paired with an anthemic chorus and Mess’ crazed screamed contributions solidified DGD as an accessible, poppy, yet technically amazing hardcore band. It has a fantastic music video too, characteristic of this era.
8. Jesus H Macy
This is one hell of an album opener. Mess’ snarled vocals break the tensely building guitar and the song doesn’t lose momentum from there – Matt Mingus propels this beast of a track with his impressive bass drum technique, and Tilian Pearson’s vocals in the chorus are nothing short of angelic.
7. Tree Village
After the release of the self-titled album, fans weren’t entirely sure if Kurt Travis could top Jonny Craig as clean vocalist. However, the lead single off Happiness, Tree Village, proved that he 100% had the chops. This emotional track demonstrates the band’s ability to create layers of tension that burst in the most satisfying, magical way.
6. Inspire The Liars
This bridge features one of the funkiest basslines of all time, period. Lyrically, this may be one of DGD’s best, tackling the subjects of worshipping false idols and the downsides of blindly following religion.
5. Open Your Eyes And Look North
People may have their misgivings about Jonny Craig, but he’s an undoubtedly fantastic vocalist. The combination of his soulful, perfectly-controlled clean vocals and Mess’ slathering, iconic screams is what made DGD so fantastic and unique in the first place. This song, and the debut as a whole, cemented DGD firmly amongst the ranks of the greatest post-hardcore bands.
4. The Robot With Human Hair pt.4
This was first song released by the band featuring most recent clean vocalist, Tilian Pearson – it instantly created a lot of hype amongst fans. After the sleazy-sounding album Downtown Battle Mountain II, this track marked a welcome return to the complex, funk-infused, pop-punk-meets-post-hardcore sound the band had cultivated on 2009’s Happiness.
3. We Own The Night
It didn’t seem possible that Acceptance Speech could be topped as an album, but the release of this song proved that the addition of Pearson to the band’s ranks made them stronger than ever. Mess’ screamed vocals are at their peak in this song, and the lyrics, about abusing substances to cope with a break-up, are desperately heart-wrenching.
2. Uneasy Hearts Weigh The Most
Probably the most famous DGD song, and for a reason. This song showed fans that despite the line-up change after the band’s debut, DGD were still in it for the long run and able to produce high-quality music. The song is saturated with teen angst in the best possible way and oh so aptly named.
1. Carl Barker
The absolute cream of the crop. Since Happiness is one of the best post-hardcore albums of all time, this has to be one of the best songs of all time; from Kurt Travis’ angsty-yet-seductive clean harmonies to Jason Ellis’ phenomenal, jazz-infused bassline, this song is layer after layer of technical perfection. Structurally, lyrically, and emotionally, it’s brilliant. And it’s insanely catchy to boot.