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coverpic flag Canada - Full Moon 222 - 10/08/14

Death From Above 1979
The Physical World
Last Gang Records

Two guys, one cup. (listed under Death From Above 1979 biography, on their Facebook site).

Death from Above 1979 are a Canadian (Toronto, Ontario) punk rock duo, starring Sebastien Grainger (vocals and drums) and Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths, and backing vocals). They formed in 2001, and they put out their debut album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine in late 2004. And - whoops - they became one of the hyper-hyped artists of the year. Suddenly, two years later, the band broke up. Was that it? Well, as sudden as they broke up DFA1979 announced a reunion in 2011, and here's their second album, The Physical World.

So, what is cool with Grainger and Keeler's dance-punk this year? Are they cool at all? Their new album was produced by Dave Sardy (who has worked with bands like Oasis, LCD Soundsystem, Nine Inch Nails and Red Hot Chilli Peppers). Which doesn't sound like a good idea, but my guess is: He was DFA1979's one and only choise. Grainger is a witty person, a joker loaded with enigma and funny/wild stories. On how the DFA1979 guys met, he's used a variety of stories: 'Although they reportedly met at a Sonic Youth concert, they sometimes jokingly claimed to have met in prison, on a pirate ship, or in a gay bar, leading some journalists and fans to believe these stories. They also claimed to have once lived in a funeral home' (source: Wikipedia). On how the band name came up (they called themselves Death From Above, but added 1979 when dance music label DFA Records threatened them taking legal steps), Grainger has stated this being as simple as it is his birth date, or rather, year. His response to being asked why they chose DFA1979: "1979 is the year of my birth, 1979 is the year of [Michael Jackson's] Off the Wall, 1979 is the year of [Gary Numan's] The Pleasure Principle, 1979 is the last year of the last cool decade, 1979 is scratched into my arm, 1979 is scratched into my arm, 1979 is scratched into my fucking arm."

So, The Physical World... is it any good, then? Well, truth is: yes and no. Here are many a cool and tough track. The album holds eleven songs, and the album's first single, "Trainwreck 1979", was released in July. The second single, "Government Trash", followed in mid-August. Sometimes DFA 1979 sound like a punky, stupid metal band, while at other times they for sure are indeed groovy, chilling and way cool. "Right On, Frankenstein!" is so stupid and cheesy sounding (down the punk-metal alley) that it is highly entertaining and riveting for sure. This is a song to love and hate, but instead you end up, well, if not loving it... liking it a lot. All the way, they come up with catchy songs, with ear candy riffs, chants, rhythm drives and breaks. DFA1979 sounds very, very cool. "Cheap Talk" is a steaming, loaded and pumping opener. Besides that, it is not among the best songs from the album. "Virgins" has some small details recalling Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains at the same time. "Always On" has the same metal power-drive, with spastic drums and guitar riffs all over. "Crystal Ball" is a likewise pounding track to which you only need a stupid grin to go with its flow. Death From Above 1979 (and The Physical World) is a perfect soundtrack for driving your car way too fast. The music tickles you till you forget all about any speed-limits.

"White Is Red" is a slower track, but it is not a ballad. DFA1979 take use of all clichés they can grab in this world. And, they do this loud and proud. Besides that, "White Is Red" is quite forgettable. The single, "Trainwreck 1979" is another catchy rocker, with quite hard evidence of DFA1979 "thieving" their way (or is it loaning....) through the history of rock and roll. When the album spins towards the closing track, you get the feeling that you have heard enough, or too much DFA 1979. The Physical World lasts only some 34 minutes, and that's a good thing: As the sound and the spirit of the songs slowly tear you down, you get this feeling of 'Hey, stop, enough! I need a break, now!' Yet, despite many songs sound the same -- the sound of DFA1979's new album seems to be a constant, or being some endless soundtrack holding the same drum sound and the same guitar sound to infinity and beyond -- they still rock and groove wildly, like an all-happy, crazy party. And, well, yes they are still sounding cool. All the time. It seems that DFA1979 all the time are looking for whatever can become the last straw. Enjoy the ride. As long as you can. Eventually you will get dizzy.

Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen 1966 e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Death From Above 1979 article/review: You're a Woman, I'm a Machine.

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