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Album Review

Bringing back the spirit of the underground punk movement of the '80s, specifically that of Dischord bands like Minor Threat and Fugazi, Double Dagger's debut, More, is precisely that. It's more provocative, more realized, and more powerful than any of their prior releases. After a surprising signing to Thrill Jockey, vocalist Nolen Strals, drummer Denny Bowen, and bassist Bruce Wilen holed themselves up in an abandoned office that was slated for demolition in Baltimore and made their third album in a completely D.I.Y. fashion. Powered by extension cords running down to floors with electricity and soundproofed by cubicle dividers, the trio recorded More precisely to sound as explosive as the band's fabled live shows. With the exception of a few overdubs (a harmonium drone to start out "Vivre Sans Temps Mort" and some double-tracked bass parts), the entire album is minimal, paired down to merely bass, drums, and vocals. Even so, it's a loud and full-sounding record. Wilen creates walls of feedback and a plethora of tones on his bass, often running it through pedals and EQing it to sound like a guitar; the drumming is wild and furious; and Bowen's vocals are absolutely spirited. This is punk rock in the purist form. Filled with social commentary and smart, art-house literary references denoted by titles like "Surrealist Composition with Your Face," the lyrics are thoughtful, wavering effortlessly between thoughtful quips, demanding shouts of joy, and screaming assaults of angst. Picking a favorite on this album could prove itself a difficult feat, but "The Lie/The Truth," "No Allies," "Half Life," "Vivre Sans Temps Mort," and, of course, the feel-good jam "We Are the One" could all be favorites. And if there's any doubt about how anthemic their songs can be, just know that they sell fuzzy foam-fingers on their merch table, emblazoned with "Double Dagger" on one side and "We Are the One" on the other, presumably for fans to fist-pump wildly in unison at the live shows.

Biography

Formed: Baltimore, MD

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The brainchild of two edgy graphic designers from Baltimore, Double Dagger is a hardcore punk/art-rock trio formed in 2002. Vocalist Nolen Strals and bassist Bruce Willen had previously played together in League of Death and re-formed with drummer Brian Dubin just after the group's final show with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Considering that Willen and Strals worked day jobs in an art firm called Post Typography, it wasn't a big surprise that they decided to name the new group after a typographic symbol....
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