Monday, November 27, 2017

Do No Wrong: A Brief Review Of The Debut Album From Des Demonas

I suppose I could pretend to be objective here. But, really, that would be a futile gesture given the grooves inside these grooves. And why adopt a tone of pretend objectivity when I am very happy that D.C.'s own Des Demonas are about to drop their absolutely incendiary debut album on In The Red Records. The self-titled release, out this Friday, is a fiery mix of Nuggets-era fuzz-rock and somewhat unhinged (though sharply focused) post-punk.

Now, for those of you in this area who've seen them perform, it's a given that Des Demonas are a tight machine in a live setting, uncoiling Fall-inspired hooks and exhortations with a remarkable amount of fervor. It is the sort of live effort that is sometimes hard to capture on tape. That it has been, and that so much of Des Demonas succeeds at accurately delivering the fire and fury of this lot, makes this a release to rave about.

Opening with one of the most pointed and infectious cuts of 2017, Des Demonas roar out of the gate with "The South Will Never Rise Again", a certifiable anthem for our times, before numbers like "Liez" and "Do No Wrong" proceed to kick off and throw everything into the blender. What's here is so many things -- a dash of early Joy Division, bursts of The Birthday Party, a snatch of The Standells -- and yet, the results throughout are marvelous and inspired, from the Mark E. Smith-fronting-The Cramps-roars of "Teen Stooge", and on to the Farfisa-swirls of "Golden Eggs" with its Sixties inflections, and back to "Do No Wrong", all jittery Joy Division busyness that is positively on fire. Still, for all the wicked energy that positively courses through Des Demonas, there are a few more down-tempo offerings -- namely, the acerbic "There Are No Vampires In Africa", and the languid and rhythmic New Wave of "Brown Rooster" -- amid the riotous rawk of the rest of the record.


The guys in Des Demonas -- Jacky Cougar Abok (vocals), Mark Cisneros (guitar), Paul Vivari (organ), Joe Halladay (bass), and Ryan Hicks (drums) -- are guys who've earned their dues in other D.C. groups, and it gives me a lot of joy to report that they've finally offered up a full-length record here with this band. Des Demonas is such a hoot, such a perfect distillation of about a dozen things being done right, that I urge other bloggers and music writers to hold off on those Best of 2017-lists until they've heard this long-player. Fans of bands as disparate as Q And Not U, Swell Maps, The Specials, and Television can find much to love here, though these fellas owe some huge, admitted debts to the pioneers of Manchester rock. That these 5 guys have managed to corral so many influences into such a tight offering is, frankly, a marvel. And, as you can see, I've happily sacrificed my objectivity by raving so openly about this one. Much like a previous Mark Cisneros-associated project, namely Deathfix, Des Demonas is the sort of record that explodes preconceptions about what D.C. rock remains in the 21st century. Less beholden to the bands that have put this city on the map in the past than they are in thrall to a bunch of Brits from the first few waves of post-punk, the 5 members of Des Demonas have caught fire here and managed to produce something every bit as exciting as their live set.

Des Demonas by Des Demonas is out on Friday via In The Red Records.

More details on Des Demonas via the band's official Facebook page.

Des Demonas will be opening up for Ex Hex on December 30 at Black Cat in D.C.

[Photos: Glenn Griffith, 2017]