The cover for Glowing Auras & Black Money, the sophomore outing from Ohio art-punk/mostly punk outfit DANA, is all wrong.
The image, which features a glossy illustration of a woman’s hand puppeteering the planet Earth, is all too prim and proper and its message is plain and clear as day – which is nothing like the eight-song LP it graces. GA&BM is a grungy, punky, messy affair, a trashy and tumultuous fight between genres, and it often is punctuated by spastic guitars which dart between punk and new-wave modes, and volcanic performances from vocalist/Theremin player Madeline. This group doesn’t hesitate to interject Melt Banana-like explosiveness (the excellent, eruptive “El Sicko”) with an oblique sense of humor and playfulness. And it has distilled the lessons of Brainiac frontman (and fellow Ohioan) Timmy Taylor better than anyone I’ve heard in recent years. And the members damn well know it.
This is no Brainiac cover band, though. The press references to Boss Hog are spot on, as these guys tend to have a more sinister rumble than, say, Bonsai Superstar. They don’t play the songs as much as they blow them up. (There is a Brainiac homage – see if you can spot it – on “Pork Pie” that will make Touch and Go aficionados smile, though. Kudos on that.)
Some songs don’t always seem to hit the nail square on the head (The 9-minute-long “Chaos Promo,” with its pounding, bassy thrum, tends to wander a little bit much) but it also seems like DANA is aiming at moving targets. The band spots the zeitgeist and engages in a kind of cat-and-mouse game, with the resulting journey of scratches and tumbles serving as a kind of sonic document in and of itself.
Some songs, though, are downright unbelievable. “Cupid” is EPIC – all CAPS intended – and benefits from the quartet slowly winding down its usually feverish sonic assault. (The song is far from tame. It lashes out like the best of them.) The closer, “Ballroom Bitch,” is a vicious meltdown.
This is inventive punk that does Ohio proud. Do yourself a favor and download it.