Anarchists Of Good Taste

Dog Fashion Disco

Spitfire Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Every once in a while, you discover a band who takes the rule book for rock & roll... and throws it into the fireplace. Tool did that for me the first time I ever heard them; Firewater did that by creating alternative samba with "Another Perfect Catastrophe."

Add Washington, D.C.-based Dog Fashion Disco to that list. Their major-label debut Anarchists Of Good Taste is the musical equivalent to being mugged in a mosh pit... and, believe me, I mean that in a good sense. Led by vocalist/guitarist Todd Smith, this quintet takes alternative, cult-like mantras, beach party/sci-fi soundtracks and whatnot, and throws them into the food processor. The end result is occasionally rough to look at, but turns out to be tastier than anyone could have imagined.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Comparisons to Tool are not uncommon for Dog Fashion Disco, though the areas of similarity usually lie in Smith's vocals. But lest you think he's a carbon copy of Maynard James Keenan, Smith proves to be very much the vocal gymnast, going from almost gentle pleading to eardrum-shredding screams almost in a heartbeat. Musically, I'd almost say Dog Fashion Disco is closer to a band like Helmet... and even that doesn't do things justice.

Take a song like "9 To 5 At The Morgue". This one particular track runs the gamut from heavy-duty alternative rock to ska-based riffs that sound like they were lifted from the soundtrack of a b-movie. Add into that a pretty twisted view of the world (that is, when you can decipher what Smith is singing; his vocals are buried too deep in the mix), and you have one band who prove they're walking a new path.

Even on the next song, when Dog Fashion Disco breaks into a twisted chant on "Mushroom Cult," there are enough twists and turns musically to be the equivalent to a murder mystery. In reality, it's kind of a fun journey to take. Is it one that's for everyone? Honestly, no... but those who do take the risk are in for some interesting times.

That said, Anarchists Of Good Taste proves that Dog Fashion Disco is still growing into their unique skin. Tracks like "Valley Girl Ventriloquist," "Pour Some Urine On Me" (I was expecting this to be a Def Leppard parody for a minute) and "Cartoon Autopsy" all don't seem like they live up to expectations - and, to be honest, a big reason for this is that Smith's vocals are buried. One of the selling points of this band has been their skewed view of the world; next time, move Smith to the forefront. I don't mean the performances of the band members aren't worthy of note, but they shouldn't be hiding the front man.

Still, Anarchists Of Good Taste proves to be a worthy effort, and is sure to both astound and confuse the listener at times. This is still a band in development; God knows what they have the potential to become, but I'm willing to bet it'll be something good.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.