Dance Hall Crashers


Lockjaw

Dance Hall Crashers - Lockjaw ©1995 510/MCA
1. Shelley
2. Don't Wanna Behave
3. Queen For A Day
4. Flyin
5. Good For Nothin
6. Buried Alive
7. Sticky
8. Too Late
9. Go
10. Enough
11. Pictures
12. Day Job
13. So Sue Us
14. We Owe

Having forsaken the horn section for a more streamlined and guitar oriented approach, Dance Hall Crasher's "rebirth" in 1995 came with the extremely consistent and pleasing Lockjaw. The album eschewed much of the band's ska roots for a more rock approach that put the catchy melodies of the two singers above a great two guitar attack. As a result, Dance Hall Crashers put forth one of the best albums of their career as well as one of their most fun.

As with the songs that made up The Old Record, the instant catchiness is in full force here, albeit with their somewhat different sound. The production on the album does wonders for the guitar sound, adding much beef to the tone and using layers to create a deeper sound than on older songs. Underneath that, the rhythm section of Mikey Weiss and Gavin Hammon is solid and keeps a beat that both encourages rocking out and shaking one's posterior. And of course no Dance Hall Crasher review would be complete without give high praise to the most identifiable members of the band: singers Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike. Their twin vocals work perfectly with one another and offer melodies that encourage to sing along with all your might.

Lockjaw, in retrospect, seems to be chock full of some of their best songs. Some are breakneck in pace ("Sticky" and "We Owe") and others are more of a midtempo, ska-ish thing ("Flyin'"). These are also the kind of songs that get stuck in your head after only one listen. The infectious melodies of "Shelley", "Queen for a Day", "So Sue Us" and "Don't Wanna Behave" are the kind of things hack songwriters worldwide wish they had thought of them first. Between the natural energy high the band incites, the immediate elevation of mood to elation and the sweetness of melody, Lockjaw is a breathless ride through what fast paced, ska tinged music should be.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/2000

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The Old Record (1989-1992)

Dance Hall Crashers - The Old Record (1989-1992) ©1996 Honest Don's Hardly Used Recordings
1. Othello
2. Nuisance
3. North Pole
4. He Wants Me Back
5. My Problem
6. Blind Leading The Blind
7. Pick Up Lines
8. Street Sweeper
9. State Of Mind
10. Keep On Running
11. Java Junkie
12. Old And Grey
13. Babushska
14. Truth Hurts
15. Better Than Anything
16. Skinhead BBQ
17. Fight All Night
18. DHC

Originally I wrote a review for this wonderful record saying that, in effect, this was the only ska record a person needs to ever buy. However, my appreciation for ska has grown a bit over the past year since I wrote those words and it was high time to re-evaluate both ska and the effect this record has had on me.

In essence, this is nothing but a compilation of different tracks recorded and released from 1989-1992 with various lineups revolving around the nucleas of guitarist Jason Hammon and singers Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike (though Karina wasn't in the earliest incarnation of the group). Though recorded in different forms, there is a remarkable feeling of completeness to the whole album, unlike most complilations. From the exuberant opening bassline of "Othello" to the singalong anthem "Dance Hall Crashers", this is one incredible ride. The first time I heard it (courtesy of a ska-fiend I was dating at the time), I was only mildly impressed. Lockjaw was my first introduction to the band (well, actually DHC opened for Bad Religion in concert and then I bought Lockjaw) and is basically a different animal than the original DHC. The guitars on this record are more in line with ska than punk and the horn section adds that ska flavor. But a few days later, I borrowed the CD, taped it, and within a couple weeks, it was the only thing I listened to in the car (and at home). That's how addictive it became. It became the soundtrack for my many roadtrips (it kept me alert during a late night drive through a blizzard over Vail Pass in Colorado).

The lyrics are down-to-earth complaints about relationships, life, and growing older, and don't fall into the angry grrl trap or alternative whining. Elyse and Karina could easily be singing about your life. And while the girls' incredible voices and impeccible harmonies are the most prominent feature, the band (no matter what the lineup) is exceptional, especially in mainman guitarist Jason Hammon's versitile and adept lead playing. None of the songs are carbon copy by-the-numbers stuff; these are individual creations each worthy of praise. The driving, high octane energy is infectious and will have you bouncing along and singing with the girls. You'd have to hate music to dislike this album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Honey I'm Homely

Dance Hall Crashers - Honey I'm Homely ©1997 510/MCA
1. Lost Again
2. Will Tomorrow Ever Come
3. All Mine
4. Salted
5. Next To You
6. I Want It All
7. Elvis & Me
8. Whisky & Gin
9. Cold Shower
10. Last Laugh
11. Mr. Blue
12. Stand By
13. The Truth About Me
14. Big Mouth
15. Over Again

The long awaited follow-up to Lockjaw presents the Dance Hall Crashers as a mix between their previous ska era and their poppunk era. As one of the catchiest bands to come along in years, DHC had quite the reputation to live up, considering my near worship of their previous albums (especially The Old Record). Still retaining the heavier guitar sound from the last album mixed in with element of their earlier works, Karina and Elyse's singing has continued their remarkable improvement (and they were quite good before), creating some of the best harmonies in rock music. The band (down to a five-piece following the departure of the second guitarist) still plays as tight as hell. And naturally, the lyrics are all about their relationships (both good and bad). Some of the better songs (and there are plenty) are "Whisky & Gin", "Salted", "The Truth About Me" (which elevates self-admiration to a new level), and the hectic opener "Lost Again". And thankfully, some of the tracks have horn contributions, which widens the appeal of the songs. As hoped, DHC has delivered another incredible album that will be gracing my CD player for weeks to come.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1997

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Blue Plate Special

Dance Hall Crashers - Blue Plate Special ©1998 510/MCA
1. She's Trying
2. Lady Luck
3. All Mine (remix)
4. Truly Comfortable
5. Shelley (acoustic)
6. I Did It For The Toys

Nice little EP that is probably out to fill in the gaps between their next full length and last year's excellent Honey I'm Homely. Out of the six songs, three are unreleased, one is a remix, and there is also an acoustic rendition of "Shelley" from Lockjaw. Since remixes are probably the most useless thing to come along in the music industry since karoake, the makeover of "All Mine" has earned an instant skip award. However, the rest of the tracks are either pretty darn good or simply smoke (such as the opener "She's Trying") in the same way they have on the past two studio albums. The other excellent bonus to this EP is the inclusion of four videos on CD-ROM as well as a photo album. For six bucks (or whatever your store rips you off for this sort of thing), you just can't beat that.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Purr

Dance Hall Crashers - Purr ©1999 Pink & Black Records
1. Beverly Kills
2. Setting Sun
3. The Real You
4. Everything To Lose
5. Just Like That
6. Remember To Breathe
7. Make Her Purr
8. Do You Think You're Beautiful
9. Nothing Left To Say
10. Won't Be The Same
11. Cat Fight
12. Cricket

The Dance Hall Crashers have done it yet again. There is such a fine line between pop genius and pop garbage and only a handful of bands are truly able to fully stay on the pleasant side of that line. Dance Hall Crashers just happen to be one of those bands. Though they have slowly eschewed their ska roots of the early part of the decade, DHC has honed a performance that relies on strong guitar work courtesy of Jason Hammon that is all at once rock, punk and ska. And naturally the twin vocals of Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike are the main focus of this band. Their harmonious and constantly improving voices are what keep me entranced with this band. Each song on this record contains infectious melody and in the days since getting this CD, a variety of songs have stuck to my brain like so much crazy glue. Of course, this is precisely what the band did with earlier albums like Lockjaw or The Old Record. With the songs covering the territory of broken up relationships and even a little bit of balladry on "Cricket" (which, if a young lady sang to me, I'd melt), the material is strong throughout. Purr is definitely a scratch behind the ears and a hit of catnip.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/1999

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The Live Record

Dance Hall Crashers - The Live Record ©2000 Pink & Black Records
1. Go
2. Make Her Purr
3. Mr Blue
4. She's Trying
5. Next To You
6. Triple Track
7. Enough
8. My Problem
9. We Owe
10. Remember To Breathe
11. The Real You
12. Shelley
13. American Girl
14. Cat Fight
15. Good For Nothing
16. Othello
17. Won't Be The Same
18. Queen For A Day
19. Don't Wanna Behave
20. Lost Again
21. Cricket
22. Sticky
23. He Wants Me Back
24. The Truth About Me
25. D.H.C.

When I happened upon this disc at my local used CD haven, I literally did a little dance in honor of one of my alltime favorite bands and was doubly excited to see that the Dance Hall Crashers had finally released a live CD. Considering two of my top five live shows I've ever attended were Dance Hall Crashers gigs, you can imagine how utterly thrilled I am to see this particular CD. And having had this on constant play since finding it, I can safely say this is now one of my alltime favorite live records.

The major issue with a lot of bands and live albums is that often their high energy live show is not properly translated to tape and you're left with an hour of tepid songs with occasional audience noise. The Live Record, on the other hand, is a nearly perfect representation of the great live show this band puts on, including their amusing between song chatting. As the subtitle on the cover suggests ("Witless Banter and 25 Mildly Antagonistic Songs of Love"), the band knows precisely how serious to take themselves (ie: enough to make great music but not to have ego issues). That sort of attitude does wonders throughout the album. The band picked a good setlist from last year's tour, one that covers their entire decade-plus of music. Early band favorites such as "My Problem", "Othello" and "D.H.C." (which is the band's concert closing number) are well played as well as newer songs from 1999's Purr. For the most part the band plays the songs a bit faster than their studio counterparts, sometimes breathlessly so ("Sticky" or "We Owe"). The end result is a live album that can easily cause the listener to start wildly dancing about his/her bedroom. And any record that makes you want to trash your room is obviously quite good.

For DHC fans, this is a superb gift from the band and for the curious, The Live Record makes a very snappy "best of" collection that just so happens to benefit being recorded where the band truly excels: the stage. I cannot recommend this band and album enough. Now hopefully they'll spend a little more time out on the road so I can catch them live yet again because this album makes me very hungry for another DHC show.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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