Ask Dan Melchior about the underlying narratives that play out in his records and he’ll say he doesn’t pay much attention to them. They reveal themselves in ways that are personal to the listener. He simply goes where they lead him. A lot has come to pass in Melchior’s life over the last few years. He made a cross-country move from his longtime home in Carrboro, NC to greener pastures of Austin, Texas.
He’s embarked on a brand new relationship, and … oh … there was a global pandemic that shut down the whole world for a couple of years. It’s difficult not to try connecting the dots when listening to his latest album, Welcome To Redacted City, Melchior’s third release with the Atlanta-based label Midnight Cruiser Records. Songs such as “Going Outside,” “The Right Influencer,” and “Incel Country,” and “Voyager.” find the U.K. born, U.S. transplant singing and playing guitar through 21 honest-to-goodness songs backed by a full band. The lineup includes Chris Girard bass, Anthony Allman keyboard, and drummer Clark Blomquist yielding a cohesive, live band feel that’s aligned with Melchior’s earlier recordings with his Broke Revue band, and much of his older releases for In The Red Records.
Garage punk, loads of distortion, and exquisite melodies careen with a poetic and renewed vigor here, each element underscoring an album that is decidedly of the times. Each song navigates a maze of modern dilemmas, viewed through the T.V. and computer screens as the world goes to hell. But Melchior channels his anxieties into 21 uplifting numbers that sit alongside personal disasters and triumphs—the kinds of things that one obsesses over while living in isolation. The driving bass in “Voyager” and the ominous voice in “Get Right Back” spouting, “They say you can never go back home again,” expands upon any and all expectation, as Melchior’s words carry just as much weight as the low rumble of the music. Jumping from captivating melodies into bluesy punk-inflected chargers, the dots start to connect themselves in Redacted City, giving rise to an album steeped in menace and delight, paranoia and confidence. - Chad Radford