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Dommengang
Everybody's Boogie Bob Cluness , June 11th, 2015 15:14

One of the more interesting aspects of modern US culture is witnessing the continuous tensions and integrations that exist between the two dichotomies of American society, myth and history; that of the urban city and the rural frontier. Whether it be the genesis of depression era Chicago blues, the explosion of Nashville as the industrial centre of country music, or the NYC folk revival of the 50s and 60s, there has always been an aesthetic push and pull from these geographical and social opposites that has gone on to inform the sounds of numerous musicians and bands.

Dommengang are a good example of such clashes at play. Formed last year by Sig Wilson (guitar/vocals), Brian Markham (bass) and Adam Bulgasem (drums), they've performed and collaborated individually with a wide range of DIY and psych acts such as Ancient Sky, Holy Sons, Castanets and Scout Niblet, before deciding to strike out on their own. They currently reside in that now well-to-do area of Brooklyn, New York, but they've laid roots all across the US, from Virginia, to Orgeon and all the way up to Alaska.

Because of this, their debut album Everybody's Boogie is classic American to the core; a tough, urban chassis that's combined with the symbols and sonics of desert expanse and the open road, a concept highlighted by the album cover of a night time shot of a highway motel. While people will almost certainly cite the likes of blues rock merchants such as Canned heat and ZZ Top as forefathers to the template that Dommengang are forging for themselves, for me the power and grunge of Everybody's Boogie hearkens to the more anglicised versions of no-frills, industrial power blues that came from the likes of Rory Gallagher and Canadian Robin Trower, with a certain amount of Hawkwind cosmic rock jams added for the sheer hell of it.

Recorded and mixed over four days, there's a definite feel in Everybody's Boogie of a newly formed, highly focused band on a tight schedule looking to get things done and dusted in double quick time. The result is an album that contains a rough, raw bluster, where there's little time for fucking around on endless flabby guitar solos and retakes, instead producing a sound fuelled by coffee, cigarettes, various chemicals and stolen naps on the couch by the mixing desk.

The opening track 'Everybody's Boogie' sets an incredibly high bar for the rest of the album to follow. The feedback and effects laden guitars give off a heavy luminous shimmer over a tightly coiled rhythm section. When the song is finally finally let loose, it's a supercharged rush of overdriven rock with a fair amount of piss and vinegar in the tank.

After such an explosive start, Everybody's Boogie almost finds itself going "what now?". Its response is to careen wildly into 'Hats Off Too Magic,' a track of uncontrollable boogie-blues with mile a minute guitar lines and drums that sound like they've been thrown down a flight of stairs, before lurching into the distorted bass stomp of 'Slow Hat', that lasts a mere 30 seconds before everything collapses into a pile of exhausted, blown out limbs.

With such a speedfreak, spit flecked salvo, the rest of the album struggles to live up to this energy and intensity. But that's doesn't mean it's a bad album; far from it. Unlike many other luminaries in the current psych/blues/boogie rock resurgence, Dommengang keep things simple, their songs holding onto their shape and not spiralling into 10 minute plus jams. 'Extra Slim Boogie' has a minimal, head-nodding hypnogroove at its heart, while 'CC' is a pig iron guitar riff despoiled by acrid reverb and distortion. In between the main songs, experimental nuggets such as 'Wild In The Street Blues' and 'Have Luck Will Travel' fill in the cracks with the band loosening up and introducing different blues styles and textures, incorporating arabesque ritual drones and pipes, and drifting south sea slice guitar noises.

It's a lean, dirty, hungry album of solid sounds that doesn't suffer from overindulgence in production or overdub tinkering. Even though the idea of "authentic" rock music has become codified and fetishised to the point of petrification, Everybody's Boogie shows that there's still some fight and spirit left in the beast.

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