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    [ The Dismemberment Plan ]


    The Dismemberment Plan

    I remember it like it was yesterday. Spring '97. Coming to the end of my fourth college year with a fifth still on the way. My family had recently sold my childhood home and moved to a retirement community down by the Jersey Shore. There was no truly direct way to reach this place from my school, so many nights were spent experimenting with different routes through the backwoods whenever I had to come "home".

    Having no working tapedeck forced me to tune into the radio and Princeton U's WPRB was always my main hit. A punk show called "Hey, You Kids, Get Off My Lawn!" was hosted by two people who seemed to have an inordinate amount of trivial knowledge about bands I'd never heard of in my life. My friends and I considered ourselves to be musical know-it-alls. However, here were two people spouting off facts and figures and spinning discs by groups I had never, ever heard, read about or seen anywhere. While most of what they played was obscure late '70's/early '80's stuff, this one night as I drove, they played something new.

    I had just taken the exit off of 195 and was making my way into the woodsy backroads. Driving these roads was like entering the twilight zone; on either end was civilization but for a good forty minutes, it was a spooky ride with mucho foliage, no streetlights and miles of white trashy accoutrements (trailer parks, abandoned churches, truck stop juke joints, wondering deer). Magic was a-brewin' around.

    All at once this crazy song came on the radio that changed my life. At this particular point, music was starting to bore me and I was looking for something new to get excited about. It all hit me this night, driving thru the twilight zone.

    Immediately two falsetto voices, slightly off-pitch with each other, moaned breathlessly over a snarling bassline and a cymbal-free drumbeat. The voices then turned into a smart-alecky speaking register which started yelping "He said you Wish YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAH!!!!!!" ushering in the chorus with loud guitars and shaved beats culminating in a "WHOAWHOAWHOAWHOAWHOA!!" backed by what sounded like surface-to-air missile targeting computer systems gone haywire. This record was in the process of flooring me and it was only the first verse! What the HELL was this?!?! I laughed OUT LOUD as they hit the second verse with more of the same to reassure me that I wasn't dreaming.

    The bridge came; all music ceases suddenly leaving two guitars sliding down a chromatic spiral calling to mind watching an imploding building crumble in slow motion; just before the facade hits the bottom, the guitars slide back up, the film reverses and you watch and hear it all again. This time around, however, you see the crash as the music detonates like an angry bomb, resplendant with angry guitar, malfunctioning beeps and whirrs and that sneering bassline (as played by an organ).

    I was so captivated and pumped by all this. I was giggling with each new section. I HAD to know what this was. NO record had ever made me react like this. I pulled the car over and searched frantically for something to write with. All I could find was an eyeliner pencil (and I'll let all your sick minds wonder why). The song ended as suddenly as it began. I sat there and waited thru several songs, keeping careful count on my fingers until the DJ's came on and broke the news. The Song: That's When the Party Started
    The Group: The Dismemberment Plan
    The Record: " " " ...Is Terrified
    The Label: Desoto Records
    I had heard of NONE of these at the time. That was all to change.

    The D-Plan obviously occupy a special place in my heart because they were the introduction to a whole new musical world that I never knew existed. I couldn't believe the DJ's when they told me they had seen the Plan live many times. "WHERE????? Where the F#$K do these guys play?!?!?!" I screamed at the radio. I was to find out big time that an untapped network of rock existed outside the airwaves of Q104, off the boundaries of 120 Minutes, outside the pages of SPIN and in venues more intimate than Irving Plaza.

    With glee I found the Terrified album and became hooked. I looked for any and every tidbit of info I could and found most of it on the web. I did find where they played and went to as many shows as I could and was introduced to many other cool groups. I could actually talk to these bands or send them an email and they'd reply. It was something I wasn't used to but it made rock music so much more personal and exciting. It was a whole new ballgame.

    So let me just devote a little screen time to the record itself. You don't have to know anything about the big wide indie rock multiverse to dig this record. I won't give it all away but its a winner. Some things need to be pointed out. What makes this band different from their underground brethren?

    1. A wide range of stylistic influences (unlike most pop punk groups, the Plan draw from many different forms and genres, including: pop, punk, new wave, r'n'b, hip hop and soul)
    2. Up front, in your face vocals (forget these weepy, whiney, droning, monotone "emo-core" singers, Travis Morrison is a true rock Frontman, singing and dancing his ass off)
    3. Fluid, soul-influenced bass playing (unlike most punk basshandlers who merely supply bottom end to the whole shebang, Eric Axelson's fingers are dripping with honey/soul and finger-lickin' grooves. You'll find no misplaced slapping or popping; only harmonically interesting concepts and tasty rhythms; one of the only truly original bassists around today)
    4. A frantic, exciting live show (powered by the insistent beating of Joe Easley, a train-wreck on the verge kept in check by the chain hooked to his bass drum and wrapped around his chair, the Plan's live shows are twice as intense as their records. It is an incredible spectacle of pure energy that leaves bodies sweaty and minds blown)
    5. Intelligent pop songwriting (besides the obvious "Ice of Boston", the chorus of "This is the Life", with its off-beat bassline and arcing keyboard harmonies, recalls the soul ballads of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell; the final track, "Respect is Due" is an example of a few simple musical ideas creating a stirring track about pride and a wounded heart)
    6. A Sense of Humor (I'm sick to death of these "serious", angst-ridden groups who use their music as scream therapy sessions. The Dismemberment Plan make no bones about their funny bones with a track like "Bra", an adventure story with nods to the Mickey Mouse Club, Young MC and Rob Base (!). "Its So You" is an anti-suicide song with a twist. The appropriate "Do the Standing Still" is their tribute to the hundreds of arm-crossed, cooler-than-thou indie rock audiences too uptight to let it all hang down and bust a move. At the same time, the Plan is far more intelligent and complex than the simple "Joke" bands they get compared to)

    The Dismemberment Plan is NO novelty act. They aren't another group of outcast artsy types with something to prove. Their music is a youthful electric dance party. They are all about serious music while their attitude is about serious fun. The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified is the perfect introduction to their off-kilter worldview. It was a perfect introduction into a real "alternative" music world for me. Pick this disc up, post-haste!

    Written By: Sir Brian C.