Black Dragon is not a heavy metal band. If Parliament had a baby with the B-52s you'd be getting closer.
Black Dragon is hip-hop funk, with the jokey personae of Spinal Tap, almost. As evidenced from their debut album "Cleveland Ass Party '77", Black Dragon is an expression of unadulterated hormonal joy.
Black Dragon is a band of seven (minimum) overgrown boys. Since the band started at the tender age of eight-years-old, they've been honing their funk formula for nearly two decades. Unlike other bands coming out of New York City these days, they lack the studied coolness of MGMT or the quiet pretense of Grizzly Bear. Instead of being shoegazers, they're gluing mirrors on their shoes to get an upskirt view.
They also lack the self-seriousness of many bands that come to make it in New York. This is probably due to the fact that the band grew up together in Chelsea, clowning on each other to the funk beats and hand claps. These hometown heroes have nothing to prove. Black Dragon just wants you to have fun again.
There's something voyeuristic about the album. It's like catching a glimpse of your neighbor changing across the street. Better judgment tells you to look away, and you feel a little bit perverted. "Cleveland Ass Party '77" indulges your inner peeping Tom, providing a window into the inside jokes of bunch of friends in a bedroom with a tape recorder and a boom box. This could be more than a little cloying if the music weren't so infectious and the jokes weren't so good.
But it doesn't matter if we think they're good because Black Dragon doesn't care. They are the ones laughing; they are the subject and the punch line of all the songs. Tracks like "Shorts II High," with its sing-along chorus and bass-heavy beat reference disco similar to the Electric Six, but without the stylized irony. There is nothing ironic about them. It's earnest crushing, like "Ladygirl," or uninhibitedly odd, like "Dr. Philosopher." Black Dragon takes the music seriously and then the party, themselves lastly. Just take their self-anointed stage names: Sonny Crono, Booger D, Q-Bo, Grandma, Headache Man, Catskills, Gene Rogers, and DJ Time Fart.
It all comes together in their electrifying live shows. A far cry from the funereal atmosphere of so much live music in New York, Black Dragon makes a party wherever they play. It's the spirit of a sweaty dorm room dance party before someone told you it was cooler to go to clubs. The two front men of the group, Sonny Chrono and Booger D, are the most energetic tag team since the Blues Brothers. They dance, they sing, they wear costumes that make them look like Alzheimer's refugees from a Boca Raton retirement community. It's spontaneous and combustible, as Chrono freestyles the song "Once Upon a Dream" to a new theme and tune at each show. At the release party for "Cleveland Ass Party '77" at Don Hill's on August 7th, he sang about how to bake cookies for your girlfriend. It's a fine line between genius and silly, but their energy is infectious. And like watching someone else belly laugh, you can't help but smile yourself. It's more than a breath of fresh air to the New York City music scene. It's a slap on the ass.
Download "Cleveland Ass Party '77" at www.blackdragon.bandcamp.com