Does it feel like there is something wrong with the world? Has the meteoric expansion of social media become a cause for concern? Are those you looked up to and admired slowly being revealed to be terrible monsters? Occasionally, in the deepest recesses of your mind, do you still wonder if the Vengabus is coming? If this modern world just doesn’t seem right, maybe it isn’t the next new thing you are looking for. Perhaps what you need is a voice from the past. One that has been talking about these problems all along.
Get Yer Dag On! is an eighteen track album by Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine. This follows on from their self titled album which came out in 2015. The band itself is headed up by Damian Cowell, veteran of the Australian music industry, who is assisted by five young musicians.
If you are not familiar with the band, I am not surprised. Don’t let the name fool you. While the genre of disco is invoked in the name, the songs only use this type of music as an inspiration. It is hard to miss the undercurrents of pop and rock which cut through the layers of each track.
Much like the album before this, Get Yer Dag On! features a collection of guest appearances. Some of these people, like comedian Tony Martin or national treasure Shaun Micallef, are returning names. Others are brand new to this album, such as current sensation Liz Stringer and the popular bearded man Josh Pyke.
With such a huge, and well known, collection of names it could have been easy to become complacent and focus more on the guests rather than the songs. But while these guests are a massive feature of the album, the songs do not rely on them. The album has a solid and well built core which these names contribute to bringing to life.
That core will be quite familiar to fans of Damian Cowell’s other works. Addressing social, cultural or political subjects has always been a theme in his songs. Get Yer Dag On! is no different.
If listening to dense, rhetoric heavy music sounds unappealing, don’t fret. Rather than hit you over the head with a message, these concepts are thoughtfully deconstructed with humour and wrapped in upbeat catchy melodies. Who would have thought it could be so much fun dancing to a song about the foibles of celebrity?
The guests only help to enhance the message. Hearing Shaun Micallef proclaiming “When you’re incredibly good looking” adds a level of satirical credence to the tune. Or having Judith Lucy expressing a need for audience acceptance plays into her stage persona. It also confounds me how this is the first time we get Damian Cowell and Pinky Beecroft together on a song. The pairing is mesmerising, and I would love to hear a whole album just of these two.
As for the music itself, the songs vary in approach. Some are heavily pop influenced, while others lean towards band-like rock, with smatterings of other genres, styles and methods liberally sprinkled throughout. I personally like this approach, of not being beholden to a particular method. It allows each song a kind of freedom to be itself. This makes the entire album a surprising journey, and ensures that it doesn’t become repetitive or boring.
Of course, music is highly subjective. There will be those who don’t find the bombastic delivery of the songs appealing. Others won’t be able to get past the obviously pop-like nature of the music. Then, there are those who just don’t quite ‘get’ this particular kind of satirical approach.
If this sounds like you, I do recommend you still give some of the songs a listen. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen ever again. But there is a chance that you will find something entertaining, or even meaningful, somewhere in these songs. Especially if you are one of those who struggles to wrap your head around why the modern world treats things like celebrity and instant gratification with such reverence.
Summary:Get Yer Dag On! is a catchy album littered with infectious songs and well-crafted music. The inclusion of guests doesn’t overshadow the track list, and in fact helps to amplify the already satirical nature of the content. The entire album is a testament to Damian Cowell’s skill with interpreting concepts, and executing an idea, in a way which surprises and delights. Contrary to what Get Yer Dag On! tells you this isn’t, in fact, complete bullshit.
Get Yer Dag On! comes out 20 February, and will be available on the Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine website. Digital downloads of the album will be $25, with limited editions of the CD for $30. Damian Cowell’s Disco Machine will be touring nationally, appearing in Geelong on 18 February, Melbourne on 4 March, Sydney on 10 March and Brisbane on 11 March.
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