The first thing you’ll notice about Seattle punks Dreamdecay is that they are very loud.
This was fully put into perspective earlier this month, when they played the Know with bands significantly less loud than them—historically a faux pas, especially in Portland. (See Portlandia’s “Battle of the Gentle Bands,” the series’ most accurate skit!) But nobody in the audience batted an eyelash. In fact, some people were even tapping their feet.
This makes sense, sort of—Dreamdecay’s new full-length, Yú, is one of the most accessible heavy records released in recent memory. It’s also a far cry from the band’s last LP, 2013’s N V N V N V (pronounced “envy,” I think)—a lurching, noisy slow-burn characterized by guitars that sound like diving artillery shells and etherized, inscrutable vocals. N V N V N V is a frightening record.
“I think Yú just got more focused,” says guitarist Jon Scheid.
“Where maybe N V was more ‘jammed out’ and more progressive, Yú is maybe, for lack of a better term, more pop-oriented,” bassist Jason Clackley adds.
To someone who’s never heard Dreamdecay—and certainly to someone who isn’t entrenched in the rarefied world of progressive punk—that description might seem a little deceptive. Yú is no less jarring and discordant than its predecessor, but on it, Dreamdecay frames their signature brand of weirdo rock in a more palatable context. Only one of its nine tracks exceeds four and a half minutes in length (compared with N V, which boasts three brooding epics), and guitars take the form of geometric, jangling bursts rather than atmospheric drones. The band hasn’t forsaken aggression, but it’s tempered it with nuance—brighter tones, more identifiable melodies, and a shit-ton of tambourine.
Though Dreamdecay’s based in Seattle, they also have roots in Portland. Guitarists Jon Scheid and Alex Gaziano played in the local bands Duck. Little Brother, Duck! and Kidcrash, respectively—two all-ages favorites that regularly played Laughing Horse Books (a beloved anarchist bookstore and DIY venue that has since been transformed into a hair salon with the name “de stijl”—the pretentious lack of capitalization is theirs). Dreamdecay quickly became a staple of the bookstore’s satellite scene, and at the time, it seemed like Laughing Horse was the only Portland venue that would book them.
But things are different now. During a KEXP in-studio performance recorded in May, a member of Fleet Foxes can be seen sporting a Dreamdecay shirt. And at a show in California, the band was approached by John Dwyer, who personally asked them to open for Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) at their Seattle and Portland shows. This is all the more impressive when you consider that Dreamdecay doesn’t exactly play the game—their social media presence is negligible, and its members’ likenesses are heavily obscured in press photos.
“Next big thing” murmurings have been trailing Dreamdecay for a while now, but when I mention this to the band, they seem incredulous.
“I would just chalk it up to us consistently playing,” Gaziano says.
“I don’t want to say it’s a slow build, but we’ve always been consistent, whether it’s been putting out records or touring,” adds drummer/vocalist Justin Gallego. “I think maybe a lot of bands from the scene we come from haven’t been able to maintain that.”