Isaac deBroux-Slone: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Drums
Raina Bock: Bass Guitar
All music and lyrics by Isaac deBroux-Sloan and Raina Bock
Mixed by Doug Olsen and Isaac deBroux-Slone
Artwork by Andrea Olson-Avina
Recorded in Isaac's basement
Produced by Isaac deBroux-Slone
Released July 11, 2016
Last month, I had the absolute pleasure and honor of performing an on-air interview with the Madison, WI based band Disq upon my Savage Radio program which airs on the Monona, WI based community radio station WVMO 98.7 FM.
Raina Bock and Isaac deBroux-Slone at WVMO studios-February 15, 2017
I was simply scrolling through my Facebook feed when I happened to see a mention of the band as being an opening act for the band Whitney that evening in my fair city. Certainly catching my eye as this local band, of which I had not heard of whatsoever, capturing such a prime position on the local live scene, I was curious to hear what they sounded like. Heading over to their Bandcamp page, I began to listen to their album.
On the very first song, I was instantly and enormously captivated. Perhaps midway through that first listen, I contacted local musician, singer and songwriter, Modern Mod/Dash Hounds' Alivia Kleinfeldt to ask her what she knew of Disq, to which she practically gushed in her written reply, "They're amazing!! They're basically prodigies!" By nearly the album's end, I was feverishly writing to Disq's Isaac deBroux-Slone to extol my amazement and excitement with everything I was hearing for the very first time, and from there, our correspondence began, leading to their appearance on my radio show.
As for the album itself, it has dawned upon me that I haven't written anything truly significant about "Disq 1" at all, aside from a quick description in my favorite albums of 2016 posting last December. So, at this time, I wish to remedy this situation by giving all of you the full presentation of a band and an album that is seriously deserving of your most valuable time and hard earned time finances, should you be inspired to purchase a copy and maybe even see them perform live. Dear readers and listeners, please allow me to take you through "Disq 1."
"Disq 1" opens with a song of romantic, melancholic hurt yet filtered through a stunning neo-psychedelic wonderland. "Candy (She's Not So Sweet)" grabbed my ears emphatically and refused to let go for even one solitary moment as the music's sad sway combined with an aggressive rock star swagger captured my power pop heart within its first few moments. And then, Isaac deBroux-Slone began to sing.
"Oh Candy I can't go to sleep, 'cause being is the pain
You probably don't even know, you left me in the rain
I promised her that I would stay, you know I said it's true
But every time I look at you, I change my point of view
I'm so confused but I am used to this
I'm gonna lose because I don't exist..."
I am so uncertain as to precisely how they achieved such power and grace, honest angst and rock and roll glory from the jump. but Disq accomplished this feat most impressively. With every sonic touch, especially with deBroux-Slone's gloriously double tracked vocals, Ringo-esque drum fills and his just soaring George Harrison/Badfinger styled guitar solo combined with Raina Bock's McCartney-esque melodicism via her bass playing, I was swept away. With just one song, I was firmly in the hands of professionals, seasoned songwriters and musicians who clearly knew precisely what they are doing and the messages they are trying to convey. Believe me, with "Candy (She's Not So Sweet)," the message was beautifully received and I became increasingly anxious as to what I would hear next.
"I'm Not Real," continues the thematic melancholic threads from "Candy (She's Not So Sweet)," but this time with a less power pop but more synthetic landscape, and a melodicism that vaguely reminded me of Jeff Lynne's 1970's/1980's studio wizardry, that certainly conveyed a romantic wooziness, a hazy heartache that lingers and haunts after a breakup, whether real or imagined, and still, it is armed superbly with an instantly infectious sing-a-long chorus.
From the album's first two tracks which demonstrated a superb confidence with building a wall of sound, the third track from "Disq 1," entitled "Neglect (Wondering)" is literally a stark contrast. Instead of layers of sound, the instrumentation is sparse--solely deBroux-Slone's drums and guitar augmenting Bock's strong, slow walking bass--all of which creates a musical palate that recalled "Let It Be" era Beatles or even Paul McCartney's classic "Let Me Roll It."
"You thought that she came from Wisconsin," begins deBroux, again showcasing his startling vocals that just snap my ears to attention. Throughout this song, Disq's melancholic tale of misconceptions, false impressions, abandonment and subsequent regret builds slowly over the course of six full minutes and why should it not as the band understand that the very best blues takes its own sweet time. Yet, when the slow burn tension breaks, it explodes into a "Plastic Ono Band" era Lennon-esque howl where deBroux-Slone shreds his vocal chords while Bock's rhythms keep that steady anchor, holding her musical partner in place, lest he should completely fall apart.
"The CIA," the album's fourth selection, goes dense and dark as the epic track feels as if two songs have been merged together to form somewhat of a hard charging rock suite. Opening with a glorious harmonized guitar riff and a driving rhythm, Disq explores the angst found within a relationship's emotional push and pull.
"You're coming close to me, I won't move away
Not how it's supposed to be, can't you see I'm afraid
I'm waiting out for you, if I do, will you stay?
What am I gonna do when the grass has turned to paper..."
From the song's quiet middle, a passage that suggests The Who, Disq takes the song into the mountainous mantra of its second half, as layer upon layer of sound creates a musical forest you will be thrilled to find yourselves lost inside of as deBroux-Slone repeatedly sings, "hurt me tomorrow, but treat me nice today."
The second half of "Disq 1," is a sonic speedball, a triptych of short, sharp blasts of heavy power pop that connect instantly and grow more infectious with each and every listen. The pounding "Nobody Likes You," features a growling riff (is that Bock's bass guitar via a fuzz distortion or deBroux-Slone's synthetic wizardry or both?) and a rapidly free flowing stream of Lennon-esque venom directed towards a nemesis.
Opening with the sound of a warbled, broken down synthetic fanfare which soon explodes into '70s styled AOR, the outstanding "All I Do Is Nothing," is quite possibly the most energetic, aggressive song I've heard about lethargy. And the self-explanatory "Overloaded," complete with cheesy '60s, "96 Tears" styled organ at the forefront, Disq blazes through the song like the most enthusiastic kids bashing it out in the garage and entertaining the neighbors to boot.
"Disq 1" concludes with one more epic and it is indeed the album's full culmination of all of its efforts over the previous seven tracks. The six minute "I'm Sorry" is a jaw dropper, a Beatles by way of Tame Impala psychedelia that again slowly builds its elements (even announcing some of them within the mix--a treat I just loved hearing inside of my headphones) until the point when the tension found in the increasing apologies (I love how deBroux-Slone's voice cracks on one sung "I'm sorry") releases itself via a dynamic, dramatic guitar solo beautifully surrounded by the rhythm section of his drums and the splendidly melodic bob-and-weave of Bock's bass playing. After all of the surprises that flowed from my computer speakers to my ears over the course of the album this grand finale sealed the deal tremendously.
Disq's debut release "Disq 1" is a rock and roll kaleidoscope of a debut! In many ways, that first listen captivated me just as powerfully as the first time I heard the debut album from Madison's Post Social, contemporaries of Disq within the Madison music community. As with Post Social, I was completely unsure as to precisely what I would end up hearing but what I discovered was nothing less than sensational, a feeling compounded by the fact that Isaac deBroux-Slone is now 18 years old and Raina Bock is 16 and both of them are high school students!
Yet, once again, I do not mention their ages as anything suggestive, exploitative or to insinuate any source of novelty. I mention their ages because there is indeed something in the water here in Madison, where this new generation of young people have taken it upon themselves to study, to learn, to create and accomplish something truly artistic and without any sense of jadedness or cynicism. These are young people whop have taken it upon themselves to really try to crack the codes into what it takes to write, sing and produce good songs, to learn one instrument or several to a certain proficiency.
And in the case of Disq, both Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock are clearly students of The Beatles, for instance, but they are savvy, clever and creative enough to have figured out how to create their own idiosyncratic identity, as well as to write a collection of strong pop songs and record and perform them in a fashion where my specialized brand of synesthesia happily exploded into overdrive.
The members of Disq are indeed serious musicians and already sound to be songwriters who are seasoned enough to go toe-to-toe with any of their contemporaries (and possibly even some well established artists). Yet, at the same time, they are playful enough where they clearly sound as if they are having a ball in the throes of creation and discovery, seemingly tickled that they were able to achieve one musical wonderment after another and even despite the darker, melancholic themes of their lyrics. For Disq, just like with Post Social, just like with the now defunct Modern Mod, just like with Dash Hounds, Trophy Dad, Slow Pulp, and other young, local musical heroes, the song is the brightest star in the room, and any sense of ego is not allowed.
Isaac deBroux-Slone's skills are simply magnificent, at times making him sound as if he is Madison's very own Jon Brion, the secret, melodic musical weapon in the mix of all of these wonderful music and performers that make up the Madison musical scene currently. He sings like a Beatle, performs on a variety of instruments like Todd Rundgren and yet somehow, has already discovered his own personality as a modern 21st century singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist.
While a quieter presence, so to speak, Raina Bock, as co-songwriter of all of the material, ensures that Disq is unquestionably a band, and not an extension of a solo project for deBroux-Slone. Although she does not sing, what I have discovered increasingly over repeated listenings to the album is how invaluable her bass performances actually are in guiding the music, the harmonics and the melodies of the songs. Her playing is inventive, consistently surprising in its depth, groove and fluidity, and the beautiful musical glue which holds these eight musical wonderlands of "Disq 1" together.
What a musical wonderland "Disq 1" is--a blissfully exciting, often marvelous, sparkling debut that has been a constant within my CD player and headphones since I first heard it. Dear readers and listeners, I excitedly urge and direct you to the Disq Bandcamp page (https://disq.bandcamp.com/) to try out their terrific release. I honestly believe that you will not only be thrillingly impressed, "Disq 1" will blow your mind!