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Armstrong | Dick the Lion Hearted | review | punk | rock | Lollipop


Dick, the Lion-Hearted (Owned & Operated)
by Ewan Wadharmi

Harnessing their punk anger and funneling it through a power pop structure, Armstrong have discovered a formula sought after yet unreached by the likes of Sponge and Everclear. Those bands always hinted at the direction they were going, but you were always left unsatisfied. In Dick, the Lion-Hearted we have a consistent energy that neither panders to the estrogen set of Bush, nor the transparent fury of Foo Fighters. It's an energy that translates equally well to frenetic happy-dancing or expelling excess angst. When jarring math-rock chords break the surface of the songs it doesn't shatter the plane, but provides interesting and disturbing fractures. The catchiness is subtle enough that after a few spins you forget you haven't heard the tunes in regular radio rotation. Former Hagfisher Zack Blair doesn't have a pretty voice, but a pretty great one. He convinces you that he's giving you everything without Michael-Bolton-pouring-out-his-innards-over-nothing drama. Like a half-a-packer, he belts out gems like "sometimes your laugh is obnoxious/and it drowns me out/just an empty shell, with a sad, sad head." Brother Doni Blair lays in truly gripping bass work to Zack's hooky guitar lines. Brad Roberts leads the tricky time signatures through seamless transitions. His time with Gwar has left him with precision stick work at any speed, and this time there's no Kroft Supershow rubber suit to get in the way. Old-timers are going to file this next to their sacred Screaming Trees discs, which is one small step for Hagfish and one giant leap for Gwar.
(PO Box 36 Fort Collins, CO 80522)  

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