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The Crucial Conspiracy
Artist: The Dingees
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Length:13 Tracks

The really ironic thing about The Dingees, I think, is the way they’re ostracized by the "Welcome to Paradise"/"What’s My Age Again?" "punk" community for not being "punk enough." What the pop punk scenesters don’t realize, however, is that The Dingees may indeed be the punkiest band in the Christian market-­instead of aping Green Day or Blink 182, they instead ape The Clash, without a doubt the most intelligent 1970s punk band to ever come out of England (they’d probably get that title for the entire world, if only the Talking Heads had never existed).

The Crucial Conspiracy is The Dingees’ third album for BEC, and not much has changed. Still present are the reggae backbeats, the sultry trumpets and, of course, the street punk mentality of the lyrics. The band has added some synthesizers to their mix (as is the current trend), and this works rather well on some of the slower songs, such as "Dear Sister, Dear Brother." The Crucial Conspiracy is undoubtedly the band’s best effort yet, and while their London Calling is still in the future, I am confident that it will arrive.

Michial Farmer 1/31/2001

The Dingees are back with their third full-length cd, The Crucial Conspiracy, which is a bit rawer than their previous efforts but the end result is a pleasant surprise.  Much of this is due to the guiding hand of producer Frank Lenz (drummer in Fold Zandura, Lassie Foundation, and Cush). The band was originally supposed to go into the Green Room with Gene Eugene to record this disc, but unfortunately, two weeks before work was to begin, Eugene died.  Lenz was called in and he did a masterful job of bringing out the best in the band.

In a day and age when being "punk" usually means delivering an overproduced punk-pop Green Day wannabe sound, the Dingees are a breath of fresh air. While others jump on the bandwagon, the Dingees are digging deep into the punk vaults and bringing back memories of early bands such as the Clash, who so masterfully blended their raw punk sound with reggae and dub on their earliest albums, up through classics such as London Calling and Sandanista.

Right from the opening track, "Spraypaint," the band lets it be known that they are still at the forefront of providing quality music with thoughtful and politically charged lyrics, rather than mere odes to high school life. They are not afraid to take an "in your face" stance and wear their hearts on their sleeves, even when their sentiments might not be popular with that segment of their audience that comes from the CCM realm.  "Spraypaint" decries the state of perceived progress in the world.

The first song to really bring out the reggae/rock mix is "Dear Sister, Dear Brother" with its message of unity.  Next up is "Christina Fights Back," a cry out against a culture that promotes eating disorders through its glorification "pretty people."  This is followed by the fast paced political ditty "Ronnie Raygun."

Yes, the Dingees are knock-down, drag-out, old-school punk.  But despite bearing that mantle, they are perhaps at their best with their stripped down, slower tunes, which dominate the second half of the album.  These reggae-laced tunes include "We Rot the Voodoo," "Latchkey Kids," and "Whole Scene." 

Perhaps the hippest tune on the disc is "The World's Last Night," a beautifully laid-back examination of the end times, with its message of disaster tempered by faith and hope.  

 We don't want the end, we want the beginning
 We don't want destruction but it comes before the new creation
This is followed immediately by the final song "Declaration," a sparse, acoustic call to action from which the album gets its name.

A few guest musicians pop up on the disc including Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric on synth and Angelo Moore of Fishbone fame bringing along his sax, theremin, and voice.  Lenz, himself, also weighs in with some drums, percussion, and keyboards.

This is a marvelous disc with The Dingees holding fast to their guns and refusing to sell out their sound.  Lenz's production hand has worked wonders and I wouldn't be surprised if more bands started dialing up his phone to get him in the studio.

Ken Mueller 2/17/2001

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