Having seen the Washdown open for the Sahara Hotnights last February, I predicted that the band’s debut full-length Yes to Everything would not come as an audible surprise. I was correct in my assumption — the Washdown has not changed its sound in the last year, nor is it incredibly original in the music it composes. Still, I found myself loving nearly every minute of this album.
What makes the Washdown great is that you can hear their energy projected in each song. That’s right — they don’t just perform, they project! This is the type of music where lead singer Ryan Hess has no choice but to swing his microphone cord and dance in the manner of the (International) Noise Conspiracy’s Dennis Lyxzen, which he does often when performing live. But this energy is a mixed blessing for the band. While it gives them a bold and exciting sound, Yes to Everything sounds like the brainchild of T(I)NC and the Make-Up, not to mention how the seventh track “Ladies and Gentlemen” bears a strangely coincidental resemblance to Hot Hot Heat’s “Touch You Touch You.” But who’s keeping track?
Yes is not particularly unique as a whole, but I found myself wanting to listen to several of these songs over and over, particularly the radio-friendly “Right Foot,” the danceable “Awful Truth,” and the Rapture-esque “Learning Makes You Handsome.” The Rapture? Jesus, this band sounds like a rip-off of much more than I initially thought. Perhaps I should also mention that the Washdown is one of many bands to jump on the three-year-old bandwagon of distorted vocals and danceable punk. Now that I think about it, there are more negative things to say about this band than there are positive.
But wait! The single, lonely, positive aspect, sitting in the corner all by itself while the negative characteristics group together and laugh at it, bears more importance than all those stupid negative traits. What could this single positive aspect be? It’s fun! You feel good when you listen to this album. After three or four notes of a single song, you wish you were that Dennis Lyxzen wannabe, screaming melodically, swinging your microphone about, dancing like James Brown.
So many bands create records because they want to become famous, popular, wealthy, or be considered high-quality; what they lack is passion for the actual music they make. I dare you to find ten current bands that have so much energy that you are fully convinced of their enjoyment in making music. It’s difficult, isn’t it? But this is, in fact, a quality that the Washdown has.
Singer Ryan Hess once joked on the Lookout! Records Web site that the Washdown (once called Dead America) wanted to sound like an old Otis Redding tape, but “the idea was to substitute guitars for the horn parts and try to create a sort of dissident, brooding intensity.” Brooding they are not, although one should not expect such a thing from a band based in Tampa, Florida. But they have mastered intensity, and being that Yes to Everything is only their first full-length, a follow-up to 2002’s self-titled EP, we should expect the band to make a powerful debut and lasting impression.