Culturespill » The Action Design

The Action Design: Never Say

23rd June

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The Action Design

Alright, so it may be released on the rather less-than-tastefully named “Pop Smear Records,” but, thankfully, The Action Design’s debut LP conjures more visions of jubilant midsummer drives to the beach with your windows down and streaked hair blown into a frenzy on the highway than it does of pap smears–and that’s a good thing. In a way it’s unfortunate that Never Say is slated for a post-Labor Day release (Sept. 23) because, much like Ted Leo’s great Living with the Living last year, the album really has a “record of the summer” feel to it.

But their MySpace page features a generous helping of tracks from that upcoming record, a sample that’s fascinating to hear alongside older material like “The Scissor Game” from their 2007 EP Into A Sound; the comparatively self-conscious and staid production of that prior work showcases a band that’s undergone an extraordinary creative evolution since, you know, all the way back in, uh–last year (because a 12-month-old song might as well have been recorded in the Mesozoic period these days–to quote Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, “that’s like SO last season!”)

Much like the aforementioned Ted Leo, tracks like “Landmines” live up to their titles by exploding from the stereo with an anthemic fury that might be downright threatening to members of the Emo persuasion, a manic exultation that approximates the rapture of The Long Winters’ “Rich Wife” or The Golden Dogs’ “Birdsong.” By the time you get to tracks like “Ten Feet of Snow” or “The Crossing”–songs on which it sounds as if the band decided to forgo the usual amps and plug their guitars into a passing thunderstorm instead–you realize that this shit should come with a warning label–“if you have a heart condition or listen to Coldplay, consult your physician before purchasing.” Or perhaps one of those disclaimers some dude reads on the radio so fast it fries your eyelids: “this band is not responsible for any sudden tremors of the nervous system, fidgety eyeballs, or inexplicable rushes of rapture.”


The Action Design in Studio

In an industry that increasingly believes money is made by categorizing bands into corners like “hardcore” or “pop” (whatever the hell THAT means anymore–is “pop” the new “indie”?), it’s particularly delightful to hear a band that does both with equal skill and passion, a band that enjoys a synth riff as much as the meaty crunch of electric guitar. Emily Whitehurst’s full-throated wail–a voice reminiscent of that neo-Mama Cass, The Gossip’s Beth Ditto–dresses the new-wave leanings of “The Crossing” in a silvery whisper poised to sneak up on you at any given moment with an unanticipated roar.

If lyrics like “once I was yours and I will be yours again” don’t threaten the thrones of Leonard Cohen or Townes Van Zandt, that’s because this is an “indie” record that does not openly cater to the falafel-and-tofu-crunching crowd of Emo vegans for whom music is a means of statement rather than joy. It’s a record for people who don’t feel guilty about turning to music for fun. Never Say, judging from those of the album’s tracks available on their MySpace Page, is indeed an unashamedly joyous record–something we could use a lot more of in a musical climate that too often identifies “indie” as a synonym for “mopey.”

In a label-obsessed scene saturated by so many genres that entire web pages are devoted to defining them, The Action Design’s Never Say offers another one for the pundits to savor: Post-punk-indie-dance-pop. It might sound like something that should come with a bubble-gum center and hard candy shell, but if any album ought to be sold with a blow-pop attached, this is it. Check them out on tour this summer and see for yourself:

Jun 19 @ 7:00P Glasshouse Record Store CD RELEASE – Pomona, California

Jun 20 @ 10:00A Pomona Fairgrounds Warped Tour – Pomona, California

Jun 21 @ 10:00A Pier 30/32 Warped Tour – San Francisco, California

Jun 22 @ 10:00A Seaside Park Warped Tour – Ventura, California

Jun 23 @ 5:00P Jillians w/Alesana, Evergreen Terrace, The Bronx, 1997 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Jun 25 @ 10:00A Cricket Pavilion Warped Tour – Phoenix, Arizona

Jun 26 @ 10:00A N.M.S.U. Practice Field Warped Tour – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Jun 28 @ 10:00A SLC Warped Tour – Salt Lake City, Utah

Jul 13 @ 8:30P Bottom of the Hill w/ Girl in a Coma – San Francisco

Jul 19 @ 8:00P The Knitting Factory w/ Girl in a Coma – Los Angeles, California

Aug 13 @ 10:00A Save Mart Center Warped Tour – Fresno, California

Aug 14 @ 10:00A San Diego Warped Tour – San Diego, California

Aug 15 @ 10:00A Shoreline Amphitheatre Warped Tour – Mountain View, California

Aug 16 @ 10:00A Sleep Train Amphitheatre Warped Tour – Sacramento, California

Aug 17 @ 10:00A Home Depot Center Warped Tour – Los Angeles, California

Aug 30 @ 8:30P Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco

Sep 5 @ 8:00P Los Angeles, California – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 6 @ 8:00P San Diego, California – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 7 @ 8:00P Phoenix, Arizona – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 9 @ 8:00P El Paso, Texas – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 10 @ 8:00P Austin, Texas – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 11 @ 8:00P Houston, Texas – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 12 @ 8:00P New Orleans, Louisiana – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 13 @ 8:00P Birmingham, Alabama – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 14 @ 8:00P Atlanta, Georgia – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 16 @ 8:00P Charlotte, North Carolina – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 17 @ 8:00P Wash DC, Washington DC – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 18 @ 8:00P Philly, Pennsylvania – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 19 @ 8:00P New York, New York – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 20 @ 8:00P Boston, Massachusetts – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 21 @ 8:00P Cleveland, Ohio – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 23 @ 8:00P Chicago, Illinois – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 24 @ 8:00P St Louis, Missouri – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 25 @ 8:00P Kansas City, Missouri – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 26 @ 8:00P Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 28 @ 8:00P Denver, Colorado – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 29 @ 8:00P Salt Lake City, Utah – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Sep 30 @ 8:00P Boise, Idaho – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Oct 1 @ 8:00P Seattle, Washington – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Oct 2 @ 8:00P Portland, Oregon – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola

Oct 3 @ 8:00P Sacramento, California – Co-Headlining Tour with Killola