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You, the Night... And the Music

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Album Review

Having already gathered a solid reputation for their early string of crazed psychotic lounge-garage singles, Gallon Drunk made the plunge into full-album territory excellently with the similarly freaked-out You, the Night...and the Music. Beginning with the appropriately titled instrumental "Rev Up — TPA," starting with a car doing just that, the four-piece dedicates itself to a mythic zone of Americana gone horrifically wrong, but never forgetting how to swing hips while doing so. The subject matter fits the mood — thus "Just One More," one of the better drinking songs out there, for all that it sounds like a dipsomaniac's purgatory, or "Night Tide" with its rumbling, echoing rave-up meets film noir feel. There's even a fine re-recording of the band's self-titled song that sounds like it could kill anything looking at it funny, even slightly. For all his protestations at the time, it's pretty clear that James Johnston listened to his Birthday Party albums pretty heavily when coming up with his vocal style, while the rest of the band shows similarly disposed insanity. Still, there are plenty of other elements in the brew — Suicide's psychotic Elvis, the Cramps' trashabilly sensibility, the Fall's palpable sense of edgy threat, even Einsturzende Neubaten's sheer chaos. The end result is familiar without being exclusively derivative, a fine place for a young band to be. "Some Fool's Mess," released as a single, captures this perfectly, everything from mambo to feedback explosions turning into a dance party from hell, Johnston's gasped lyrics about sex and its messy consequences all the more disturbed. Throughout the album, Max Decharne's drumming is sharp and subtly inventive, balancing out pounding power with slyer touches, while Michael Delanian's general instrumental work fills out the corners all the more impressively. Joe Byfield, meanwhile, concentrates on maracas, and unlike, say, Bez's negligible contributions to Happy Mondays, adds a recognizable, key element to the total atmosphere.


Formed: 1990 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Often compared to dark and brooding sounds of such artists as Tom Waits, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, and Morphine, the London quartet Gallon Drunk originally formed in 1990, consisting of members James Johnston (vocals, guitar, organ), Mike Delanian (bass), Max Decharne (drums, also keyboard player with the Earls of Suave), and Joe Byfield (maracas). Shortly after their formation, the quartet began issuing singles on their own label (Massive), most of which reached the top of the independent charts and...
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You, the Night... And the Music, Gallon Drunk
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