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Dynasty - Dynasty

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Artist: Dynasty

Album: Dynasty

Label: Tigerbeat6

Review date: Nov. 9, 2003

There is a sign-o’-the-times aesthetic to Dynasty’s sound – a crackling, lo-fi dance pop complete with style, attitude, and a geographical and cultural sense of place. It’s no secret anymore: the west coast still has disco fever, and dance music, pop music and punk ethos remain, at least momentarily, entwined into a single, many-knotted braid.

However portentous the unspoken familiarity of such sound is – that is to say, over-saturated fad or no over-saturated fad – the scene persists in locating salience amid its ranks. Dynasty brings a familiar feel to the table with their bleating synths and too-cool-to-say-hi mid-tempos, but the band’s mascara-clad eyelashes exude an arresting ‘je ne sais quoi’ that is captured on tape via excellent production.

The duo responsible for the more geek-related aspects of Dynasty’s self-titled debut is none other than San Francisco MC Gold Chains (producer) and Eric Landmark (engineer), who plays with Dynasty drummer Indra Dunis in Numbers. It’s impossible to know the exact divisions of recording responsibility, but assuming that Landmark turned the knobs and placed the mics while Gold Chains shut his eyes tight until it felt right, they win. As with last year’s Numbers record, Life, there is a done-it-themselves clarity that simmers off radar until the speakers are cranked enough to feel an unpredictable vigor one might associate with homemade fireworks. Dunis’ robotic dance grooves benefit from a dry, but punchy clarity where each drumbeat immediately slices through the mix. Singer and keyboardist Jibz Cameron’s vocals retain a fizzling, at-the-show grit where each note sputters and pops just as it might on your friend’s shitty PA. Diana Hayes’ bass ambles along confidently, and the interplay with Dunis’ confident kick drum further pimps their noir-pop party program. Gold Chains and Landmark replicated the band’s live sound with endearing accuracy; the records sound like the band is jamming out in the hallway, which is great because this music drips fun all over the floor like a puppy.

The first two tracks, “Amy’s Song” and “You’ve Got Problems”, are quick-fix party starters, snappy and fast. “Loneliness” wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch film; melodramatic, insecure and entirely glammed out with synthesized strings, it may be the exact sound of Mulholland Drive’s paranoid So-Cal glitter. Although the campy, fetish fantasy “Uniform Lust” might not be for everyone, album closer “Wargasm” is the surest disco-odyssey of the year, winding through four minutes of hi-hat clomping backbeats and Cameron seething “Fuck who you wanna fuck.”

Dynasty has successfully found another pleasing niche in the overarching conceit. They’re a part of a DIY underground wonderland where a spare 20 minutes is enough to throw a sweaty dance party, or at least record an inspired, attitudinal pop album.

By A.A. Davidson

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