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Dag Nasty | Minority of One | review | hardcore | punk | rock | Lollipop

Dag Nasty

Minority of One (Revelation)
by Morgan Coe

Yes Virginia, that Dag Nasty. Ten years after their first reunion record, DC's melodic hardcore pioneers have crossed paths again. The lineup is the same as 1992's Four On the Floor and 1986's classic Can I Say: Roger Marbury, Colin Sears, Dave Smalley, and Brian Baker. For those of you keeping score, these four have done time in Down By Law, DYS, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Bad Religion, All, The Meatmen, and Junkyard, so they've got a lot to live up to and a lot to live down.

Dag Nasty fans tend to fall into two camps depending on which singer they prefer: The sensitive types will go for Pete Cortner, while tough guys will pick his predecessor, Dave Smalley, every time (the more-Dag-Nasty-than-thou types worship original singer Shawn Brown, but that's another story). The good news here is that on Minority of One, Smalley branches out from his trademark half-sung, half-barked vocals into singing that's almost Cortner-esque. The bad news is that, unfortunately, he either can't or won't match the intensity of his earlier delivery. The backing harmonies the band picked up during their stint on Epitaph don't help either. In fact, his singing sets the pattern for the whole record: The rhythm section is tighter, the guitars cleaner, the songwriting more complex, and the production (courtesy of Steve Hangsen, the mysterious fifth member of Minor Threat) more solid than ever - but the better they get, the more trouble they seem to have in recapturing their old spark. They occasionally hit their stride ("Bottle This," "Throwing Darts"), but they're just as often bogged down in musical "diversity."

Here's the thing: Although Dag Nasty may once have seemed polished and catchy compared to eccentric DC contemporaries like Rites of Spring, Embrace, and Beefeater, "punk rock" has since caught up with them and then some, and the style of melodic hardcore that they invented has become the common currency of cynical boy-bands like Saves the Day and New Found Glory. Although they've refined their sound many times over, Dag Nasty just can't cut through the clutter like they used to.
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