08 June 2011

Daisy Chains: "A Story Has No Beginning or End"

My thanks to Daisy Chains for keep me in the loop.

Graham Greene wrote in “The End of the Affair”: “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” That one line lends itself to the title of Daisy Chains' sophomore album, “A Story Has No Beginning or End” (5 April 2011). In this post-broadband revolutionized world we live in, cultural capital has become more and more exchangeable across national and continental boarders. This is most obvious in music, as more and more national specific scenes in music continue to grow and flourish, while garnishing attention from the outside. No longer do we live in the days that “indie rock” immediately conjured up visions of the UK and USA. Hailing from Italia (not be confused with English noise rock band, Daisy Chainsaw), Daisy Chains has created a sound that references The Velvet Underground and the first wave of avant-garde new wave, post-punk to the first two waves of punk. But this is not indie rock that is an Italian interpretation of what is happening at the Reading Festival; this is indie rock that is fresh and distinct, urgent and vibrant, and further evidence that other European nations have much to contribute to the world of indie rock.

The brand of post-punk that is referenced musically is not that of Siouxsie and the Banshees, but rather that of The Smiths. This is most obvious in how the band layers their musical arrangements, especially in the rhythm acoustic guitar. Opening with the track “Arrogance,” the layering of the guitars is savvy and produces a thick (but subtle) wall of sound. Vocally think of Lou Reed [Velvet Underground] meets Ian Curtis [Joy Division] meets Eddie Argos [Art Brut] – right from the opening track, there is a sense of “matter of fact” about the vocals – a non-feigned take-it-or-leave-it quality, which adds to vocalists Carlo Pinchetti’s conviction as a singer. Being that I am a sucker for a literary reference, I have to mention the second track, titled after Greene’s “The End of the Affair.” The guitars could not sound more 80s, with arrangements that are reminiscent at times to that of early punk rock. The guitar arrangements hook you and are the centerpiece of the song; much like the early Clash, there is never a sense of choppiness to the guitar playing.

This is not a generic take on Anglo-American indie rock; from first listen, there is an air of distinctiveness to the sound. And that is because they can’t help to have some Italian sensibility creep into their music; much like Diaframma or even Alexander Robotnick (though Daisy Chain is not electronic), Daisy Chains has a deep appreciation for Anglo-American indie rock, new wave, post-punk etc…, but coming from outside of these scenes allows them to reinterpret the sound without copying it into facsimile. Take “The Time That We’re Wasting” – the music is as urgent as the title would expect, because of the bass arrangements, which does not parallel the guitars or drums in the same expected way, the music has a more subtle effect. The showstopper comes right after, “She’s Going.” With a soft and near ambient beginning, that makes you think of waving a lighter or cell phone at a show, the song quickly reveals that is really wrapped in second wave punk rock. With an incredible pop sensibility that puts what passes for punk-pop to shame, Daisy Chains demonstrates over and over in this song the ability to play with our expectations of what is about to follow.

Then the closing song, “Vision of Madness.” With the smoothest bass arrangements, the song sonically does tilt towards darker post-punk references, but not drastically enough to make it the odd man out of the album. Thumbs up for the song being a bit anti-climatic, Daisy Chains ends “A Story Has No Beginning or End” on a more ponderous feeling, while keeping a jaunty pop sound. In a nutshell, “A Story Has No Beginning or End,” from beginning to end, is jam packed with gems that may seem to be disparate of what is going on at the moment, but in all actually are all about what their musical references were all about: doing something distinct. This Italian indie band is worth your time to check out and support. (PS - Love the vocals on the hidden track.)

Track Listing:
1. Arrogance
2. The End of the Affair
3. One for Me
4. So Fast
5. Don Juan Aux Enfers
6. Much Better
7. Happy Instead
8. The Time That Wer’e Wasting
9. She’s Going
10. Vision of Madness

Keep up with Daisy Chains at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are live clips of Daisy Chains performing “Arrogance” and “Visions of Madness / Monsters & Pills” from the DaisyChainsBand YouTube Channel.

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