Some concepts get played out quickly: white belts on punks, spikey belts on everyone else and “disco punk,” just to name a few. But none of these memes are gonna lose their grip on our popular consciousness, and the fact of the matter is, our pants have got to stay up somehow while we’re dancing to the underground. That’s the obvious lesson to learn, but there are others.
Moving Units is one band trying quite hard to learn everything they can. Having opened shows for the holy disco-punk trinity of the Rapture, Hot Hot Heat and Radio 4, they debut four songs (a prelude to a purported major-label deal) of, well, disco-y punk.
Indeed, they’ve done their homework – four on-the-floor beats, ground-bouncing basslines and vocals that alternate between Luke Jenner’s desperate yelps and Steve Bays’ sprawling drawl. Add in occasional polyrhythms, and you’ve got a lean but derivative EP built for a DFA remix.
Dance Disaster Movement, on the other hand, are a less probable Bang club-banger. Rooted much more deeply in post-hardcore – with members from pre-post-hardcore, aka hardcore, bands – We Are From Nowhere is dissonant, nasty and sprawling, all of which are virtues better suited to a Discman than a dance floor. The bass-free three-piece takes cues more from San Diego seven years ago (Clikatat Ikatowi’s rhythmic prowess, Physics’ repetitive song structures) than from New York today. The album offers only one song, “Seizure,” that would suggest beat-matching. It’s the last track, and far and away the stupidest.
But not so stupid as Moving Units, which, for all the attention to detail, proves that disco-punk isn’t rocket science. Dance Disaster Movement, on the other hand, proves the kind of music that does challenge is rarely groovy. And though both bands succeeded at what they seemed to have been trying to do, it’s DDM that gets the passing grade for showing that certain lame ideas – experience and breadth of influences, aka “cred” – really do mean more than other ones – disco-punk.
[DJ Fatkid still believes in belts. Great glory be, belts! Testify!]