Danny End The Dictators – Coincidence Theory – Album Review
Well…let’s see how this band ends up doin’ this time around. If you read or remember the last review I wrote on Danny End The Dictators and their album The Death Of Sovereignty, you know there were…hmm…let’s say…mixed results…I guess that’s a good way to put it. And just like every time that happens in a critical review…I didn’t hear a word from them. I still haven’t in fact, to this very day, even though I’ve got another record to check out here in my inbox. So I’ve got my fingers crossed for them! A quick hello certainly ain’t a bad way to start things off when you’re putting your music out there around the internet, but it’s definitely not required; nobody out there owes me a damn thing & I can promise you that I sleep the same exact way every single night.
“Seule” is alright. It’s about what I expected more or less. At the end of the day, there’s really been very little time between the last time I was listening to Danny End The Dictators and now, so there’s really just as little reason to expect that much would have changed – that takes both time and perspective, and it’s only been a mere two months since the last time I was listening to them & their last record. What I like is that they’ve got a solid grip on the desolate sound…”Seule” is like the last of the light before it burns right out completely, and to be fair to the band, it’s full of exceptional musicianship, especially the guitars. As for the rest…the rhythm section stays locked in and I dig that…the vocals I could probably take or leave like I did the last time around…though I’ll be the first to admit, there are more highlights for that aspect of their music than there was on the record before. As far as enticing goes…like…as in first impressions and all that…I dunno…I’ll be honest with ya, Danny End The Dictators makes it hard to argue that everyone out there is gonna want to continue on from the opening tune forward. The reality is, they know that though…it’s not like I’m telling them anything they wouldn’t have already realized – there’s ways to get people excited, and ways to push people away…they’re actively choosing the latter approach, and because of that, “Seule” sounds like a last gasp for life in the first position of the record. There’s risk in that, and they know it as well as anyone else does…we all make choices, and here we are.
Would I have started out Coincidence Theory with like…I dunno…ANY other song on the record? Sure. “Take A Swing” for example…that’s a much more inviting vibe that’s bound to draw people in to listen as opposed to intentionally push them away…but I think it’s fairly clear that Danny End The Dictators has a bit of a chip on their shoulder and aren’t exactly looking to conform in any way to please the masses, let alone a guy like me. They’ve got some great things going on in this track…the guitars remain a huge asset…the bass-lines all stand-out for the right reasons…the vocals lean more towards what people can handle & would want to hear…the layers of detail in their music & instrumentation is interesting to listen to. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that “Take A Swing” is the song we’ve been waiting for Danny End The Dictators to put out, but it is getting closer to that. Their musicianship continues to be their main strength for sure…but yeah…the vocals…you can feel that they’re making more of an effort in that department with this record, and that they’re starting to find the balance they need. I don’t know that the material is quite as strong as it’s gonna need to be…yet…but they are showing promise and clearly making steps in the right direction. It’s still niche stuff in the sense that the widespread appeal is gonna be a struggle to achieve with the sound they’re rocking with…but they’re bound to have loyal fans that dig on what they do, and right on for that. They’re playing with confidence, regardless…and ultimately, that’s really all that matters to me. No one’s gonna give a flying fuck whether or not I like something at the end of the day – I’m just one asshole with an opinion – but it DOES matter whether or not Danny End The Dictators are putting everything they got into what they do, and ultimately I’d argue they are.
Staring down the barrel of five-plus minutes is daunting y’all…I don’t know that I’m quite there yet when it comes to this band. With the production on the vocals and the way they sound…it’s a bit hard to argue that “Back Baby” is not a little more of the same, or at the very least, not different enough to make the difference they’re looking for from track to track. They’ve got themselves sounding very similar from the start of this record to the third cut so far…and if they wanna fault me for pointing that out, they’re welcome to – but this is where I’d argue that time & perspective & objectivity are freakin’ CRUCIAL between records. When you’re ‘in it’ twenty-four hours a day and putting out three records in two years-time…it’s practically impossible to hear what people outside of the band are hearing. On the positive side of things – when you’ve got a sound that’s all your own, then it goes on to become a signature aspect of the band…you just wanna make sure that it’s a sound that works is all. I still think there’s a whole lot up for debate surrounding the Danny End The Dictators vibe…it’s not at all the worst I’ve ever heard by a longshot, but at the same time, I still feel like they’re making things intentionally harder than they need to be. “Back Baby” is a decent tune…no doubt about that…same as the first two cuts as well – they’re something to listen to…the question is whether or not they’re giving us enough to come running back to…and I’m not so convinced they’ve found that song in the album’s first three cuts.
Case in-point, “Evolve To Dissolve” instantly SOUNDS like it’s going to do SOMETHING a little bit differently. Not everything we need to do needs to move mountains, it just needs to show some kind of evolution taking place and that a band or artist is moving in the right direction – and I felt like this song does that. “Evolve To Dissolve” has a more tangible melody, more definition in the parts of their music in the production, a freakishly great guitar solo…and the material itself is even a fraction stronger. It’s the shortest track on the record by a fair margin as well…which I think plays to their advantage when it comes to the heavy shroud that encompasses the Danny End The Dictators sound. I’m not here to argue that they’ve stumbled onto a single-worthy hit here just yet, but it IS a more accessible vibe…there’s a good chance that they could convince more people to listen with “Evolve To Dissolve” as the gateway in. Much like I felt about this band in my first review of their music earlier this year, it still feels like they’re searching for what really works best for them; I don’t know that “Evolve To Dissolve” finds whatever that might be completely, but it definitely gets a whole lot closer. To me, what they’ve latched onto in the verses here is pretty damn good…and their instrumentation always has something great to offer your ears as well. I think they need just a bit more variation in their vocal sound…they’ve got a capable singer up front, but the way things are recorded ends up making a lot of it seem very similar from track to track with the layers & such…tone-wise, there’s not a lot of flexibility in that approach because it all blends into one solid combined note in a way, but again, there are positive steps forward on this cut.
“Flagellate The Sky” at the very least, gets big points for one of the better song titles I’ve seen this year. The longest track at nearly six & a half minutes in length…I get interested around the ninety second mark where the instrumentation takes over for a moment or two – like I was tellin’ ya, Danny End The Dictators always has something worth your time in that department. Other than that though…I’m kind of the mind that “Flagellate The Sky” isn’t the cut that pushes the record forward, so much as it’s the cut that might throw the rest of the folks out there trying to hang on, off completely. They’ve got a really bizarre push/pull energy found in this song…some of the musicianship sounds inspired, and at points, some of it sounds drained of that inspiration. It’s like a song that Danny End The Dictators CAN play, as opposed to a song that they WANT to play – you feel me? That makes things way harder for us on the listening end for sure…because we can feel that mixed result…that searching for the hooks…that missing passion we’re looking for. A great guitar shreddin’ does not a song make, as they say…I feel like this band is always going to have a few highlights in the mix for ya, and a signature sound of your own like they have can always become an advantage over time too…but honestly, it really seems like a tough sell.
So…yeah…lemme be clear – it’s not that the vocals are bad – they’re not; it’s the method employed that makes everything sound so similar that I’ve been railing against. Even on songs like “Contigo” that ARE decisively different than so many of the songs in the lineup, end up being a potential casualty of there not being quite enough variation from what comes outta the microphone. I’ll fully admit that there IS a little more on “Contigo” than there is in the majority of the songs without hesitation…but I do wonder if it’s going to be enough. In terms of whether or not that’s really something they’re intending to do, or just meeting the demands of material that asks a bit more from the microphone, I couldn’t tell ya – but yeah…I’ll readily concede that “Contigo” is actually a fairly solid cut on the record by comparison to the rest. Shorter lengths seem to be working out more in their favor for sure – but listen objectively to the material…the reality is, there’s just more in “Contigo” to hang onto, more of a lively spark to it & hooks to be excited by, with parts that require more expression & dynamics…and they rise to the challenge. The vocals actually come out sounding really great in the chorus of this cut…it’s definitely a highlight for Danny End The Dictators, and should definitely serve as somewhat of a blueprint for the path forward.
And there we go! I’m not gonna be the guy to tell you every issue is resolved here, but “Paper To Pen” contains way more variation in the way they approach the vocals, and you can start to feel things shifting in the right direction for Danny End The Dictators at this point on the record. A cleaner cut to a certain degree, but still locked into the vibe they’re looking to create, “Paper To Pen” focuses more towards melody, and the concept itself is clever enough to keep me amused…I like the reversal of the phrase we’re all used to in putting pen to paper…visually, you can see things happening in the opposite direction by putting “Paper To Pen” instead, and it genuinely got a chuckle out of me. I really dig the guitar solo around the 1:55 mark as well…great character in that tone, well-executed too – and heck, I even end up digging the whistling that occurs afterwards. To me, “Paper To Pen” might not seem like an instant hit to everyone out there, but I can promise ya that this particular cut is probably more addictive than you’ll realize at first…the more I heard this song, the more I enjoyed it. “Every now and then” Danny End The Dictators surprise me a little bit, and every time, it’s appreciated. The drums also get the bonus points here…great tone, precision, and steadiness to the beats we hear, and yessir, I dig that too.
“Désirée” has its moments…again, I like the whistling & guitar solo…so there’s that. It’s got a more playful design to it & on the lighter side of the Danny End The Dictators sound…and honestly, I think these dudes are a serious trip…like…I listen to their music and end up wondering what the heck THEY listen to, you know? Sometimes the best compliment we can pay someone surrounds the uniqueness they possess…and yet it’s the number one thing that can work against a band as well. Sure they’ve got their elements of Punk and elements of straight-ahead Rock that can be compared momentarily to this or to that, but largely what this band creates is by their own design. Over time, that can lead to a loyal following for sure…but there’s no doubt that anything truly new can take serious time to catch on. When it comes to the whole music-makin’ thing…in my experience, most bands can’t run out the clock, or don’t have the patience to do it…but longevity does eventually win the war if you can stick with it all. “Désirée” isn’t quite as strong as the two tracks that come directly before it, but I still enjoy it more than most of what I’d experienced in the first half of the lineup on Coincidence Theory. I mean…I’ll just be as real with ya as I can possibly be & tell ya that I still believe this band is capable of so much more than they show us…which is what ends up giving me that gut feeling that they’re rushing themselves too much. Anyone listening to a record these days is practically giving the creators an arm & a leg because people are so stingy with their time…and I think we’re lookin’ for more than a couple of solid cuts per album when we do take that time. Danny End The Dictators are a capable band with solid players in the lineup when it comes right down to it…now it’s all about taking their time to create bulletproof material.
In terms of cohesion & all that…they might have some things to examine in that regard too. By the time we get to “Drained,” it’s like you’re listening to a whole different band than the one that started the record in terms of style & sound. There are no rules that say you can’t have a wide array of sound in that respect, but it is something to consider from the listening end and what keeps a record worth repeating. There are elements of “Drained” that I really like…it’s a track that certainly seems like the band is having FUN again…ultimately, that’s enticing to the ears in many ways. I don’t need every single note & tone from the microphone or music to be 100% perfection…I suppose I just need to hear that the interest & engagement is there, and “Drained” gives us that much more in that regard than most tunes on this record do. To a degree, it nearly sounds like an afterthought compared to the writing of so many of the other songs in this lineup – but happy accidents in that regard can be some of the greatest things to happen to a band, and quite often some of the most revealing moments of their personality. It’s like songs like “Drained” are being played with the expectation that no one is listening, and they’ve just let themselves loose here for a moment to do what they do without any fear of being judged by dickheads like me…and the results end up speaking volumes on behalf of what can really work in their music. The bass is kickin’ up a storm, the vocals end up having a much more varied sound and more dynamics on display as a result, and the guitar solo you’ll find around the two-minute mark is by far one of the most unique moments not only on this song, but on this entire record. It’s rad AF really, and memorable too.
OKAY. So. Let’s suppose for a second, that someone out there is listening and paying attention to the things I’ve been saying. “All I Know” works. Period, end of sentence, full stop – it WORKS. I’m not going to sit here and declare that it’s the song of the year, but this is a MASSIVE highlight for Danny End The Dictators, and a giant leap forward via the most subtle means at the very end of this album. And they know it. I can tell them all damn day, but they KNOW it. Clarity can lead to exceptional results in music – and without being drowned in layer after layer in the vocals, “All I Know” comes out proving to one & all that the vocals in this band can truly be an asset…and that this dude really can sing. Personally, I feel like a lot of what we hear in Danny End The Dictators has all the signs of a band testing the waters and finding their way…they just need that confidence to know they CAN play and that they CAN sing…and the best way to really test that out IS through clarity. The more we can hear, the more we can judge on its raw merits – songs like “All I Know” prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the right pieces ARE there, that they exist, and that Danny End The Dictators could go on to create something genuinely accessible…if that’s what they end up WANTING to do. Talk about a full 180 though – this final song ain’t anything like the band that started this record, or that made the one I heard before it…and dammit, it’s refreshing in all the right ways. “All I Know” felt like a real reset in that respect…a potential nod to the future to follow. Not everything needs to be so damn complicated all the time…sometimes simpler ingredients can produce the tastiest dish, and the same is true when it comes to making music. Danny End The Dictators end up with an authentically great tune at the very end of Coincidence Theory, and a song that is certainly my personal favorite from this lineup…I have the feeling it’ll be yours too. In any event, it’s a good nod to what they’re really capable of, shows more heart in their music than they generally choose to reveal, and a potential path forward to the record I think they really wanna make.
Find out more about Danny End The Dictators at their main website: https://www.dannyendthedictators.com
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