So begins Dawn of Man’s “A to Z,” a surefire anthem of a single that is buoyed by equal parts independent ideology, bright guitar riffs, and brassy percussion. Frontwoman Alison Russell’s vocals affect a gruff matter-of-factness that exudes self-confidence while eschewing the husky croons, winsome coos, and diva-esque cries that typically define the female voice in popular music (if you like SAT analogies, then Alison Russell : Jenny Lewis :: PJ Harvey : Michelle Branch). Guitarist Brian Clancy, a veteran of District favourites like Bluetip, the Downer Boys, and Blind Ambition, provides an echoing six-string counterpoint to Dart Shipe’s New Wave keys and chords. As for the rhythm section, bassist Andrea Zuraf supplies a steady stream of low-and-heavy fuzz to further build on James Quindlen’s steadily-slapped skins and crashing brass.
Altogether, it’s quite the tasty combination, and a welcome relief from other fem-fronted bands whose vocalists tend to be little more than glorified go-go dancers or sexpot fashionistas. Russell’s vocals are full of self-sufficient DIY ethos and decidedly feminine angst, and she deftly avoids the temptation to go for the easy sell of oversexed croons and come-hither intonations.
As Dawn of Man’s debut EP, In the Bronze Age is chock-full of reverb-drenched guitar riffs, head-bobbingly bright percussion, and dance-friendly rhythms wrapped around a molten core of carpe diem choruses. Like “A to Z” before it, “Bronze Age” serves as a call-out to scrape off the dross of the day-to-day, a promotion of self-invention and creativity that would, ideally, have its listeners “burn in the sun / and never spend a day in the shade.” Next up, “The Chosen” rattles off regrets for a failed relationship, followed by even more smelting metaphors in the dreary streetwalker narrative of “Taking Shape.”
While it may initially appear to be straight-up NYsCenester dance-rock (albeit from the D-o-C), In the Bronze Age doesn’t feel anywhere near as disposable as the work of countless other acts that have drunken heavily from the stylistic wells of New Order, Thin Lizzy, the Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. At little over twelve minutes long, In the Bronze Age is nothing if not short and to the point, but its brevity is remarkably well-done and invites multiple consecutive listens.
Audio Reviews (February 3rd, 2007)
Tags: audio, review, dawn of man, in the bronze age, postfact records