Dave’s Neck – One – Album Review
As promised on the SBS Podcast when we played’em last – the Swedish dirt-rockin’ band is ready to start the year off with a bang through the hard-hittin’ & heavy cuts that line their new record, One. For those of you out there unfamiliar with this three-piece of Stiiv (Bass, Vocals), Henke (Guitar, Backing Vocals) and Kapten (Drums, Backing Vocals) – this project has been in a state of incubation and development over the past year or so. We reviewed the initial single “Knock Knock Idiot” – and even though we enjoyed it…the band themselves were determined to push themselves much harder than what we were hearing and wanted to shape their sound in a slightly different direction. As risky as a reset of that sorts can always be – Dave’s Neck took the time to do it RIGHT…and we didn’t hear a thing at all for nearly a year, before they came roaring back with the lead-single from One, “Nothing To Me” – at which point, it was clear that they were indeed, on the right path for their music, sound & style.
You’re current now…you’ve been brought up to speed on the past and now it’s time to move forward & check out what Dave’s Neck is bringing to the New Year.
Or to put it to you in their own words – “Oy! It’s motherfucking tea time, yeah?!”
If you’ve got the volume up where it should be, my advice is to sip that tea quickly while the intro track, “Initium” serves to give them a second to charge their batteries and you to finish your beverage before they go ripping into the intensity of the lead-single and first full tune on One, called “Nothing To Me.” Otherwise you’re likely to spill it all over yourself from the shock…I suppose it just depends on the individual and whether or not they like wearing hot tea as part of their outfit…and who am I to judge? Still a huge fan of this gripping riff-rock track from Dave’s Neck with its army of thundering drum beats on “Nothing To Me” and think it’s certainly an excellent choice to get One off to a roaring start. You can find my full thoughts on “Nothing To Me” from the previous review right here – but do yourselves one-better…you don’t NEED my words to go out there and listen to this crew…so do THAT! It’s a killer tune that contains enough energy to split the atom & a great track to set the pace for the brand-new album.
With “Fly” being the first full-length tune that was all new to me, I was stoked to hear these guys continuing on from where they left me off last time with “Nothing To Me.” “Fly” also happens to be the official second-single from the record as well…so be advised, One is LOADED up-front with energy. I mean…it’s completely loaded with energy all the way through the album…but you’d don’t know that for certain at this stage on the second track. Killer riffs from Henke’s guitar spiral out into a psychedelic groove and fill the atmosphere as “Fly” begins, breaking way to more space as the vocals begin. Excellent structuring and songwriting on this second cut leads to multiple parts within this three-minute-plus experience, with arguably like…three or four choruses or pre-choruses in this song? Essentially, they move from hook to hook in this powerfully progressive heavy-rock tune without it ever feeling bogged down by over-ambition at any time. “Fly” is seriously impressive as you listen to it flow and transition through each part flawlessly…there’s much more happening on the inside of this tune than you’ll find on the inside of most BANDS out there. STRONG stuff overall here…I love how tight this band is and how Dave’s Neck seriously moves like an entirely unified entity, shifting and transitioning perfectly through the complex demands of a song like “Fly” and the whole record to follow ultimately.
You’ll find pop-inclinations infiltrating their heavy, punked-up & dirt-rock sounds like you will on “Your Creation.” For some people out there, the gnarly & gnashing groove of “Your Creation” is where that distinct mix of fun, anarchy and chaos finds its way to the record. For those out there that needed just a degree or two more accessibility in the hooks to go with the relentless rock-filled sound of Dave’s Neck – you’ll get that on this track without a doubt. “Your Creation” is a seriously entertaining cut early on in the record that flexes a party-vibe amidst the chaotic imagery in the words…they rip through this like they’re watching the world burn right in front of them while they play the soundtrack from the stage. Listen to them CHOPS people! This is one of those songs that sets fire to the crowd upfront in a live setting…I can just imagine the chaos in front of the stage breaking out while a song like this goes off. Bring out like, a megaphone or something to replicate the vocals on the bridge of “Your Creation” and it’s all a recipe to incite a riot inside of people listening…the energy of Dave’s Neck is through the roof.
They’re not about to let up yet either. “Doggy In A Bag” is a serious riot of mammoth proportions, all contained in a the furious beats and shouted words in the thick of intensity. Through the descriptions and imagery in the words & the poignant observations being made in the questioning of the lyrics – you get a clear perspective and glimpse into Dave’s Neck’s opinions on the state of the world, and the entire life experience really. Give this three-piece some well-earned props as well – they are on FIRE at this point on the record and putting together extremely demanding structures in their songwriting. Whether it’s the intricacies of the musicianship or the demands on them to supply an endless amount of furiously-paced energy – songs like “Doggy In A Bag” highlight the fact that this band is more than ready to hang with the biggest names out there. Track after track, this album reveals that it is never going to let you down as it continually exceeds expectations in performance, songwriting, production and its relentless rock attitude. One has the kind of gripping energy and committed sound that seems like a great omen for 2018; if this is the kind of year that it’s going to be, it’s going to be one you can play loud’n’proud. Hand the award to Kapten on the drum-throne…those storming beats fuel this tune.
As far as dynamic hooks in the structure and versatility of their sound goes – they’ve got themselves a seriously strong song in the middle of the record with “Falling.” Definitely a stand-out track for the bass-lines from Stiiv…but also a song that starts to put other aspects of the songwriting & sound of Dave’s Neck on display. Part of me thinks this track has strong single-potential…assuming people can chill-out and get into the way this song evolves and develops for a goddamn moment or two, the payoff in the chorus might very well be one of the most impressive you’ll hear on this entire record. The more I heard this track, the more I felt like, even though a more mxed-tempo track will always take the people out there more convincing…the way that Dave’s Neck explodes into the chorus of “Falling” and the insanely powerful pull of those extremely well-written hooks…I dunno…still seems like a great choice for a single. I don’t want to take a thing away from these beasts for the amazing work they’ve done on the verse of “Falling” – but there’s not a single doubt in my mind that what people will remember most about this track is its incredible chorus. Because it’s also so different from where the song starts, “Falling” is also that kind of track that gets bonus-points for continually sneaking up on you somewhat…like you’ll hear the beginning of the song the second time you repeat the record and remember that it’s a different vibe from Dave’s Neck – but when you get to the chorus, you’ll likely meet it with an ‘ohhhhhhh right, this is THAT tune’ and turn it right the hell up as loud as you can get your stereo to take it.
I can understand that a lot of people out there respond to hard-rock with an attitude that seems to lead them to believe not much is always being said over the microphones…many songs in this genre are simply geared towards having a seriously rock-filled experience and they stay at surface-level lyrically. Dave’s Neck has already proved their introspective & personal writing is fuelling these songs on One to potentially longer-lasting, more meaningful material than many of the bands in their category already – but they take up the insight even further through the brilliant words on “Wide Open.” You get a lot of views into the perspective & insight that Dave’s Neck has to society & to the world at large on all the songs throughout this record to a certain extent, but I think a track like “Wide Open” makes more of an effort to get its message across. Love the way this track is immediately on the attack…seriously, have a listen, “Wide Open” BEGINS in full-gear before they break into a haunting & spread-out atmosphere that adds that emphasis to the words through the perfect way they respond to the music surrounding them. Great mix on the vocals and music throughout this entire record really; listen to the way you can hear the definition in a track like “Wide Open” as it moves from part to part…every instrument has space in the mix to stand-out and be heard & the vocals sit in the most motherfuckin’ perfect spot on every song. Seriously impressed by that…when you hear the challenge in front of the studio boards on multi-part ideas like “Wide Open” and the attention to detail it would take to get those vocals to find the space to make the most impact without hogging the spotlight from the ideas and effort in the musicianship like they do on this song & throughout the record is seriously commendable.
You know…after spinning this record relentlessly over the past week or so…I feel like the biggest RISK that Dave’s Neck could make with this record would be to not go out there and test the waters with the public reaction to “Just A Boy” as a single. I’m such a SUCKER for melody in music and an anthem-style sing-along like this tune…those pop-inspired hooks that run rampantly throughout “Just A Boy” are the kind I’ll be happily turning up to play for the neighbors whether they want it or not at all hours. The vocals are completely at their best here…whether it’s the lead or in the back-up, everything you’ll hear is so damn perfectly mixed and performed it should make your head spin & jaw drop. I’ll admit – “Just A Boy” is what you’d likely refer to as a song that is right on the fringe of what could belong to the overall sound of One when it comes right down to it…there’s zero-doubt about the fact that this song brightens-up the atmosphere of the entire record every time it comes on by comparison to the rest. BUT…it DOES fit in my opinion, and it also provides a blissful energy that sets up the fun in the atmosphere of One to follow when “Teatime” continues the album. I can understand the argument that we as listeners, CHEW through a song like “Just A Boy” immediately…those are the kind of hooks that you’ll want to repeat over and over and over again, likely an instant favorite for many people out there that listen to this record. Like any album by the Foo Fighters or your favorite kind of candy – you probably gotta pace yourself with “Just A Boy” if you want it to last…but if we’re talking about hit-potential or crossover appeal…I’m just saying, they’ve got to seriously consider putting this out there as a single. That’s assuming the style, energy and sound work for them as musicians and as a band on a personal-level. I have no doubt at all that people will LOVE this song…but of course, once you start putting out a certain style or defined-sound like you’ll find on “Just A Boy,” people will damn near expect it time and again. It’ll be up to Dave’s Neck if they want to continue on with such a prevalent pop-inspired sound…I’m definitely willing to vote with an enthusiastic YES here on the idea of such a style being further explored. This works, 100%…it’d be damn hard for anyone out there to resist the audio-appeal of “Just A Boy.”
For myself personally, I think I was most surprised by how much I really LOVED “Teatime.” C’mon people – this song is WICKED as wicked gets – and also a solid reminder of just how skilled this band is in their musicianship as well, with long instrumental sections that scorch the earth with sonic fire & fury. The chorus, where Stiiv yells out, “IT’S MOTHERFUCKIN TEATIME” gets me AMPED-UP every single time I hear it; I can recognize that this cut might not exactly be for everyone…but at the same time, I like, can’t? How could this NOT be for everyone out there? Even your sweet grandparents out there have had the intensity of “Teatime” locked inside of them somewhere just waiting to get out when the wrong person crosses them and it’s time to get ready to rumble. I’ll tell you this much…I’m full-on replacing any ways that I’ve been describing ‘go-time’ with “IT’S MOTHERFUCKIN TEATIME” wherever I go from now on…I don’t care if I’m sitting in church. The mix of madness and mayhem, savage-energy and straight-up PASSION that fuels this cut all comes from a genuine appreciation and real love for the way that music can truly transform the energy in a room at set the people listening free…that’s what I get out of this track. It’s like an audible battle-cry…”IT’S MOTHERFUCKIN TEATIME” is what it is.
I think “Scream” has the biggest challenges in terms of qualifying for your love…but let me explain. First of all, you can’t ignore the fact that “Teatime” comes so damn far out of left-field in surprise – it really becomes one of the most rad experiences on the album, yet arguably one of the songs that sticks harder to its main ideas than most. The less complicated, more straightforward, wild instrumentation and insanely cool energy in “Teatime” makes it almost tougher to get right into the more ambitious writing, structure and style of a song like “Scream” right off the bat…but much like the final track “Wasted” as well, I think this second-to-last cut really starts to flex the muscles in the meat of their songwriting and ideas even more. It does come out more mix-tempo, switching between a rhythmic groove and all-out rock-assault…but they’ve also put in the work throughout the mix, structure, production and performance to create multiple highlight moments along the way. “Scream” does come out feeling more involved and slightly more demanding for the average set of ears to stick with…but while it might not be the track that people initially react to on One, it’ll likely be one of the tracks that holds up on this record full of fireworks. Not sure about the fade-out here on “Scream” – it’s hella long! But to be truthful, I’ve never actually heard a fade-out in a rock-anything kind of song that I have been sure about…so I don’t hold it against’em. Love the bass-tones in the breakdown and the pure unfiltered power of the way they approach the chorus on “Scream” – that doesn’t sound like a threat to me…my ears know the difference in the tone of those vocals…and when Stiiv rips out the line ‘someday you’re gonna scream out my name,’ – I can tell ya, that certainly sounds like a promise to me.
I’ve always been a big fan of a record that can end on a conclusive tone…and a bigger fan of those records out there that hint towards the future as well, just like this One does. “Wasted” ends the experience on a real highlight of slow-burning intensity, laced with brilliant harmonies and serious internal drama relayed in a way that probably all-too-many of us out there can relate to. What I can tell you with certainty…is that the contrast you’ll find on “Wasted” leads to the kind of dynamics in a final track that you’re looking for – this hits it right out of the park as far as I’m concerned. The way they shift from the mix of gentle & haunting guitars in the verse to the psychedelically-dark & meaty chorus is freakin’ immaculate, straight-up. The solo in the middle is beyond-impressive, setting them up perfectly for one more rip at the supercharged creativity in the energy of their main hooks once more before ending One on a delicate cushion of string sounds in the very last seconds. Definitive. Conclusive. Awesome. Stiiv takes those vocals for a serious ride; haunting and melancholy in the verse and all-out FIRE in the chorus with the incredible harmonies they’ve put out along the entire journey through One.
This might be insider information…I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to reveal this last part…but fun FACT for you – Dave’s Neck turned down a reported EIGHT different record-deals out there in order to make the record they really WANTED to make with the freedom & creative-control they found in the Vegna Music label. It might take a while for it to become completely clear on just how important and crucial this decision was at this point in time…but I can pretty much guarantee after listening to what they’ve come up with over this powerfully cohesive and consistent set of tunes that they’re going to realize they’ve absolutely made all the right moves here – One is a completely killer record, wall to wall.
Find out more about Dave’s Neck and hear the music at the links below!