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Django Django

Electro-fuelled by an enlightened knowledge of Joe Meek, kraut-rock and modern-day knob-twiddlers (from DEVO to The BETA BAND and HOT CHIP), the arty, post-rock DJANGO DJANGO had all the elements to succeed in a pop world bewitched by folktronica; the fact that one of their kin was the kid brother of former BETA BAND and ALIENS’ musician John Maclean was a “Brucie” bonus.
The Anglo-Celt connection was clearly visible from their humble roots early in 2009 as Edinburgh University College of Art students, namely Irish-born Vincent “Vinny” Neff (vocals, guitar), David Maclean (drums), Tommy Grace (keyboards) and Yorkshire lad Jimmy Dixon (bass); albeit from their base in Dalston, London. An impromptu gig in support of Duncan Marquiss’ PHANTOM BAND (who depped on bass) was to set out their stall, while a self-financed single, `Storm’ (b/w `Love’s Dart’), kick-started the band into first gear. Committed to vinyl rather than any download format, DD displayed their love of Meek, surf-music and the BETAs over the 7-inch `WOR’ and its sandy-desert instrumental flip-side `Skies Over Cairo’. Incidentally, the footage for the latter “A”-side was created by Glaswegian visual artist Cara Townie, who was present as cellist and extra vocalist on its flip.
Duly funded by the French/London-based Because Music through Warner Brothers, DJANGO DJANGO beat a pathway to the hearts and minds of sun-soaked, electro-pop fans with `Waveforms’, a 12-inch soon-to-be a feature on the kooky quartet’s eponymous Top 40 debut album DJANGO DJANGO (2012) {*8}. Produced by David Maclean himself, there were plenty sounds here to raise a pulse (including the 5 cuts previously mentioned), but had they given too much ground and catch-up time to rivals EVERYTHING EVERYTHING in pop’s perpetual waiting-room. If one can recall the masterly keys and bubbling synths of ADD N TO (X), mixed in with a STONE ROSES fluidity (er… had they been a West Coast band), `Hail Bop’ stroke a chord that a mild-mannered Meek would’ve been proud. Beat-wise, the bouncy DJANGO DJANGO ventured to the land of DEVO on `Default’ and/or a fun-size 23 SKIDOO for `Zumm Zumm’. A deserved place among the Mercury nominations, the outfit’s tiptop patter and need to show off an Hawaiian shirt or four was never more evident on `Life’s A Beach’.
Not content with the toxicity of this excellent debut, the indulgence of a companion piece, “Hi Djinx! Django Django Remixed” (2013), was probably too tempting to avoid. Ditto, a cover of The MONKEES’ `Porpoise Song’ for a “Late Night Tales” session.
Another 3-year wait was finally brushed aside with album two, the Top 20 placed BORN UNDER SATURN (2015) {*7}. If religiously listening to The BEACH BOYS via The VENTURES in turn, then it worked in spades on the opening cuts `Giant’, `Shake And Tremble’, `Found You’ and `First Light’. Okay, the sixties were moons ago, and the harmony-driven Vinny and Co were probably sicker than most tenties outfits being referenced all over the place, when the fact was that they’d been hard pushed to invent their own unique post-ENO sound. DJANGO DJANGO unchained are a fascinating prospect, “a freath of bresh air” and an in-sync machine that can come alive without being swallowed up by austerity and delusions of grandeur; press-play also `Reflections’ and `Beginning To Fade’.
2018’s similarly chart-placed MARBLE SKIES {*8} was another semi-triumph for the group. Infectious beats and bleeps, neo-psychedelia swathes and electro-R&B were of course part of their make-up; drummer Maclean using his skills to weed out any imperfections. The inspired choice of guest artists also played their part; Self Esteem (alias Rebecca Taylor of SLOW CLUB) handled the vocals immaculately on `Surface To Air’, whilst METRONOMY drummer Anna Prior kept time when David was otherwise diverted. From the opening title track, to the bouncy `Tic Tac Toe’ (also on limited-edition 7-inch), then on to the chirpy and/or charming `Sundials’, `In Your Beat’ and `Champagne’, DJANGO DJANGO were effective in nearly every department.
© MC Strong/MCS May2015-Feb2018

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