(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #243: Django Django

By on Wednesday, 9th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

You’re probably wondering why it’s taken us so long to cover Django Django officially. I already had an inkling they were going to be a big deal after their self-titled debut album came out at the end of January, following on the strength of the very poppy and very infectious ‘Default’. However, it wasn’t until I caught them at the Vic Galloway-curated SMIA night at Easy Tiger Patio on the Wednesday of this year’s SXSW that I felt had a better informed opinion of the band. Now that I have that, I feel comfortable talking about them with some level of authority. That and I figured it wasn’t worth fighting with everyone else over the last 3 months, every other outlet that was anointing them just solely based on ‘Default’ that they were the best thing since sliced bread. So here goes…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjpOrlfh0Y[/youtube]

The basics: they met at art college in Edinburgh but didn’t actually get together until later, and in London; they’re not named after Django Reinhardt but ‘Son of Django’, a rave record that caught the attention of singer Vincent Neff, who turned his back on a probably lucrative and successful architecture career; Neff is from Northern Ireland (Templegrove, Derry to be exact), a tidbit gleaned out of an interview he did with RTE 2fm’s Jenny Huston at SXSW; ginger drummer David Maclean acts as their producer. Got all that?

I’d now like to dispel the ‘psychedelic’ label. While there’s a definite detached air of cool pervading their music, I think ‘psychedelic’ is a too simple genre for Django Django. The psychedelic age back in the ’60s is probably best remembered for stoned hippies, smelling of hash and going round with their flower power, and the music of the times, which seemed to be made by slightly better looking, better dressed musicians who were also under the influence. What seems to be forgotten is that even with the drug haze that hung in the air, there were some really lovely harmonies that came out of the period, typified best by bands like the Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, and later on the Eagles. The harmonies on ‘Django Django’ make this album transcend any other pop album; there’s a richness just on the vocals alone that have few real competitors in the music market today.

But it’s not just the harmonies that shine on this fine debut. The music, which is rhythmic and wholly engaging at times, mesmerising and beguiling at others, sometimes fights with the vocals for centre stage on this album. In other cases, I’d say this is not a good situation of the two halves of a song being at odds with each other. But instead, Django Django plays the lyrics off the music and vice versa, creating a mini-world with each song. Take for example, ‘Storm’ (video below), their latest single that was on this past Monday. Yes, it’s psychedelic looking with its bright colours and unfocused images, but forget that for a moment.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny67ABAGKh4[/youtube]

Listen to the beginning rhythms right from the start. Hypnotising. There’s a verse that goes “you are made / of complex sums / I’m counting all my fingers now I’m down to my thumbs” – it’s witty in the droll funny way Morrissey did it with the Smiths, but Django Django have the benefit of an even more earworm-y melody. ‘Waveforms’ follows a similar rhythmic path, though the vocals lift off from the ground to reach the heavens, with admittedly a trippy lyric of “and you wanna know why / all the rivers run dry / when I see you again / I see the look in your eyes…”, before heading back into percussion land, bouncing in such a way you’d have to be dead not to bop your head around and chair dance. Incredible, memorable pop. Good stuff.

What I hope you take from this piece that Django Django is far, far more than just ‘Default’. You’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you didn’t check our their debut album, which is guaranteed to be an album everyone will be talking about in years in come, as well as appearing on top albums of 2012 lists. They’re not just psychedelic. They’re timeless.

Catch Django Django at the Great Escape on Thursday 10 May at the Pavilion Theatre at 23.45 and Friday 11 May at 22.15 at Blind Tiger as part of the Fly Magazine showcase. They will also appear at the Red Bull Studios Live at the Garage at Liverpool Sound City on Thursday 17 May at 23.30.

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