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Dance a While, Upset

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Album Review

While Settlefish's sketchily drawn line roughly follows the slashes made by emo's black permanent marker, Dance a While, Upset — its debut for Deep Elm — is closer a cousin to indie rock than the post-hardcore urgency mined by many of its lovelorn labelmates. Led by the obtuse lyrics and earnest vocals of Jonathan Clancy, the band shows an affinity for the minor keys and mashed-up influences of indie, often (like in the six-plus minute "On Symmetry Pebbles") letting songs play out in an angular yet unhurried sort of way that suggests the math rock of mid-'90s types like Chavez. Likewise, Clancy's pseudo-poetic, nearly impenetrable lyrics repeatedly bust up the boy-loses-girl, boo-hoo emo template. (Sample lyric, from "Pilot": "Another ladybug has come percussion needs another victim rhubarb rhythm rhyme ridiculous"). All of this being said, Settlefish isn't afraid of the rock. "Camouflage Iris" ends in the midst of wailing, grinding guitars, while "Artificial Synapse" plays Clancy's voice off a processed version of itself over pinging electric guitar notes and weirdly shifting time signatures. "Pilot" itself channels the late, lamented At the Drive-In with propulsive drumming, Clancy's raw throat screaming oddly alluring gibberish, and treble-kicking guitars that drive the song to its disjointed, super-satisfying minor-key finale. Settlefish might be relegated to an emo holding tank by its label association and the occasional, yearning foray into youthful overstatement. But even if it doesn't always succeed, the band uses up every inch of Dance a While, Upset with opaque sketches and outside-the-lines ambition.

Customer Reviews


Just like every other band on Deep Elm Records, Settlefish makes the heart swell, the adrenaline pump, and the foot tap to the beat. Wonderfully written and performed, this album is one of the few forms of Rock that remains untampered thanks to Deep Elm.

And The Critics Say...

"With Settlefish's debut album, Dance A While, Upset, you are immediately struck with the anthematic qualities of the songs this band creates. The opening track Breeze cruises along like its name, building and fading, charging and retreating, using everything from drums, bass, guitar and vocals to a small horn section in an attempt at getting the point across. Then the chaotic aggression of Blindfold The Leaves takes your breath away in a completely different, but equally effective manner. The angular guitars are screaming as the drums beat them without a second thought, then the whole thing erupts into a rhythmically peculiar and overall mind-bending experience. Settlefish has shown a lot of promise here, as Dance A While, Upset oozes with energy and conviction in a way that sounds refreshingly new and exciting." - Alarm "Italy's Settlefish access the right amount of honesty and poignancy on Dance A While, Upset, and they've managed to at once do something different and do something right. Fueled by battling guitars and dueling scream-singing, the dark, heavy and passionately broken ten-track record achieves a stirring sound of its own. Meandering amongst the desperate and melancholy (On Symmetry Pebbles), the hardcore-inspired and noise-drenched (Blindfold The Leaves) and the forceful and infectious (Artificial Synapse), Dance A While, Upset builds and broods, invites sadness and pleasure and aims to bring its listeners to their knees. Creating honest music that's culled directly from the heart, the quintet's explosive sound could come from none other than their own." - Alternative Press "After witnessing Settlefish's impressive jaunt across America, the rock-listening public is at last able to enjoy Italy's latest post-punk desperadoes in the comfort of their own homes. Settlefish wowed many concert attendees and press folks (this one included) by being both distinctly different from their label mates and extremely energetic, and newly-minted fans will be pleased to know that the fellas don't disappoint on Dance A While, Upset. Jonathan Clancy's terse vocals and lyrics have a Cedric Bixler quality, but Settlefish is moodier and more technical than ATDI, and their guitar work is of a different species. What you'll really hear is the dissonant patchwork of pre-cello Cursive given a noisy kick in the pants by way of a third guitar. Yes, this is actually a three guitar band in which all three axe-slingers have a purpose other than increasing the volume, and with the complement of some blistering bass playing, you're left with a sensory bombardment of stabs, strums and feedback. The six strings really shine on Blindfold The Leaves when they culminate for a noisy finish of Sonic Youth-like proportions; the band also does a fine job exploring the warm and fuzzy end of the spectrum on Measures Can Divide; and then there's the spazz-core coda of Camouflage Iris, which has less to do with astute guitar playing and more with a remarkable rhythmic intensity. Such flashes of smart musicianship pulls Settlefish out of the rec ball field of emo and into the expansive arena of rock and roll. These rookies lay down slow-building rock like grizzled vets." - Splendid "When it comes to uncompromising quality and singular attributes, Settlefish leaves its mark on indie rock with its debut, Dance A While, Upset. The atypical framework of these ten tracks seems to follow along the lines of glacial, subdued intros that twist and convolve into odd and disparate directions. Songs like Symmetry Pebbles build into cymbal-filled chaos and rickety guitar noodling; Camouflage Iris explodes into a maelstrom of blizzard-like percussion and alarm-bell guitar textures; the slow, quiet escalation of The Beauty That Corrodes evolves into a pendulum rhythm, and later a rippling, nebulous guitar effect. Still, there are plenty of examples of Settlefish getting right to the point, unleashing hellacious and stout rock capable of putting hair on your chest. The bass sizzles and pops, and at one point Settlefish launches into something resembling free-form jazz. Pilot has a serious hammering effect, but with lots of calms before the storm. The instrumentation on Artificial Synapse is controlled chaos coupled with the serpentine basslines. The closing number, Northern Town, is ten minutes of extremities and a whirring ambience is the only constant. Dance A While, Upset cements Settlefish as one of the most unique acts on the extensive Deep Elm roster." - The Journal Review

Sets a mood...

I dare you to drive on a far roadtrip and not love this album, particularly from Southern California to Northern California, through wine country. As you pass hills, meadows, cities, animals, and people, you will be in your own world. Yeah...WTH! This album creates an adventure from start to finish. Definite must have in your collection.


Formed: 1998 in Bologna, Italy

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The intelligent post-hardcore quintet Settlefish emerged from Bologna, Italy, in 1998. Led by Canadian vocalist Jonathan Clancy, the band also featured Emilio Torreggiani (guitar), Bruno Germano (guitar), Phillipe Soldati (drums), and Stefano Pilia (bass), all Bolognese. Torreggiani and Soldati had previously played together in Grosse Bertha. After coalescing around co-written material, Settlefish began playing out around Bologna at festivals, and eventually self-released a three-song EP. More songs...
Full Bio
Dance a While, Upset, Settlefish
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Customer Ratings