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splendid > reviews > 5/29/2003
David P. Smith
David P. Smith
Hurtin' Dance Party
Self-Released


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Ill Wind"

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What would booze-soaked contemplation sound like if accompanied by an accordion? Wonder no more; David P. Smith answers that obscure question with a resounding "It would sound surprisingly cool." Formerly a visual and performance artist known for his surreal monologues, Smith picked up the accordion at the age of 30 and decided to head in a different direction, incorporating music into his realm but keeping his darkly comic sensibility intact. Hurtin' Dance Party's cover and insert, which features a grizzled action figure tied to a miniature bottle of Seagram's and passed out on a hardwood floor, sets the stage for the deliciously controlled chaos that follows.

Almost postmodern in its juxtaposition of vintage instruments and approaches with 21st Century observations and attitude, Hurtin' Dance Party is darkly funny, abrasive yet infinitely listenable. Smith, whose voice would fit right in with any backroads country bar band, wraps his hillbilly yodel around some relatively mind-bending concepts, at least as far as bar bands go. From ghosts and demons to robot twins, he wanders down some dark paths, his trusty accordion clearing the way like a machete. Heartfelt crooners like "Robot Twin" and an unlisted cover of "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You" share space with grinding rockers like "Booze Party" and "New Diggity-Doo"; Smith covers a lot of ground, presumably with the help of a lot of bourbon.

Rollicking through the swampy, pitch-black "Ill Wind", sounding like Rocket From the Crypt scoring Ghost World, and following it up with the stream-of-consciousness Appalachian nightmare "Grey Yodel #3", Smith and his backing band never flinch. Theirs is a unique brand of rockabilly blues, twisted through a neo-satirical monkey grinder, making for a truly singular experience. Packing all the energy of Reverend Horton Heat and infusing it with wit, fragility and the occasional burst of honesty -- as well as the aforementioned and omnipresent accordion -- Hurtin' Dance Party is a head trip well worth taking.



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