By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Dance Hall Crashers
Nine years and four albums (including the recently released Purr, but not counting two subsequent reissues of its 1990 debut) into its career, Dance Hall Crashers is still mainly known for the fact that Operation Ivy's Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman started the band before going on to form Rancid. Not that it has anything in common with Operation Ivy or Rancid, other than the fact that Armstrong and Freeman were briefly members of all three groups (they never appeared on a single recording). Of course, DHC hasn't done anything else of note in almost a decade of existence to overshadow its parentage, so you can't exactly blame people for living in the past, even if there isn't much of a past to live in. Beats talking about how the band was one of the few groups that didn't really cash in on the twin crazes of ska and punk, securing the group a record deal with MCA that never panned out, resulting in two discs -- 1995's Lockjaw and 1997's Honey, I'm Homely -- that might as well have been blank. It's not as if anyone would have ever found out.
And it's doubtful that anyone ever will. DHC is back in the minors again (Purr was released in August on San Francisco-based Pink & Black Records), and its unlikely that the band will ever get another call-up. They probably don't deserve it: Lockjaw was full of breezy pop propelled by the dual vocals of Elyse Rogers and Karina Denike, but Honey, I'm Homely and Purr might as well have been culled from the recycling bin; they're crammed with lazily reconfigured versions of the same song. And Lockjaw comes off as weak now, if only because in the four years since its release, the band has picked it apart until there is nothing left that doesn't appear somewhere else. Lockjaw could have positioned the band as the credible alternative to No Doubt, but all it did was raise false hopes. Turns out that DHC was just as uninspired as Gwen Stefani and company. No wonder Freeman's and Armstrong's names keep coming up when DHC is discussed. There's nothing else to talk about.
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