Album Review: Be Kind to Your Neighbor: Be Kind to Your Neighbor

Be Kind To Your Neighbor is Dan Davis and Ed Bornstein (The Occasionals), and since Ed moved away, they’re no longer playing together. But they did get together at Flat Black to record this CD. As with Dan’s other band, Weather Is Happening, the organizing principle is a titanic wall of guitar noise, pummelled drums and tortured, screamed vocals.

That may not sound particularly distinctive or pleasant, but these guys sell it. Anyone can be loud, but BKTYN sounds huge. Their music, at turns lurching and stately, stays entirely away from blues licks or the time-tested folk music chord progressions of most rock music. Davis writes songs that climb up and slide down chromatically, with a real sense of harmonic adventure. It’s what I imagine someone like Gustav Mahler would do with a Stratocaster and a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier.

Ed and Dan are unwilling to simplify what they do, and yet for all their angular, meandering song structure, it’s still an invitation to head bang and pump fists that’s hard to resist. BKTYN is a collection of paradoxes: visceral and cerebral, serious and fun, overwrought and unrestrained, lumbering and nimble. While it’s possible to hear echoes of the Melvins’ doomy dirges and Swervedriver’s massive guitars in these songs, BKTYN isn’t as sludgy as the former, or head-in-the-clouds poppy as the latter.

This album is available for download (see the Bandcamp page) on a “pay what you like” basis, with the option to listen to the whole album streamed without downloading anything.