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Music / La Dispute

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"Tell me what your worst fears are, I bet they look a lot like mine"
La Dispute, "all our bruised and broken bodies and the whole heart shrinks"

La Dispute is a five-piece Post-Hardcore band from Grand Rapids, Michigan that formed in 2004. La Dispute consists of lead vocalist Jordan Dreyer, drummer Brad Vander Lugt, guitarists Chad Sterenberg and Kevin Whittemore and bass guitarist Adam Vass. At present, their albums are distributed internationally by Epitaph, and were formerly distributed by No Sleep Records.

Their debut EP, Vancouver, was released in 2006 on Friction Records. They temporarily signed to Forest Life records and released two extended plays in May 2008 before releasing their debut album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair in November 2008 on No Sleep Records. They released three more extended plays before their second album, Wildlife.

The Band is known for playing a brand of post-hardcore indebted to Emo, Jazz, Blues, and Metalcore, with their lyrics delivered in a spoken-word or screamed style. Somewhere at the Bottom of the River drew its inspiration from the "asian folktale" told in the song "Four", and prominently featured uncommon time signatures and screamed vocals.Wildlife was a more subdued and introspective record that focused on stories and issues that the band had encountered. It dropped the complex rhythms of the first album and featured more melodic elements and the band playing in unison.

La Dispute released their album Rooms Of The House, on March 18, 2014 to positive reception. The album was released independently of record labels, rather through the band's own independent label named Better Living.

In 2019, the band released their first release with long-renowned punk label Epitaph Records, titled Panorama, to critical acclaim.

Compare and contrast with MeWithoutYou, and Slint.

La Dispute provides examples of:

  • Art Imitates Life: "St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues" was written about the eponymous church.
    • "Edward Benz, 27 Times" is apparently a true story.
    • As is "King Park".
  • Bittersweet Ending: A few of the songs on "Wildlife" end this way, as Dreyer explains:
    "She lost her kid, only seven, to cancer.
    She answered with faith in her god and carried on,
    While he was attacked by his son and was stabbed in his stomach and his back and his arms.
    He showed me scars.
    82 years old, told me, I still have my daughter and my wife. And I still have
    My life and my son."
  • Call-Back: Wildlife's penultimate track, "all our bruised bodies and the whole heart shrinks," contains callbacks to "Edward Benz, 27 Times" and "I see Everything," briefly pausing to reflect on them and inviting the listener to tell their own stories.
    • "Edit Your Hometown" contains one to the previous song, "St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Blues:"
      Compare: "I Might turn 63 still sweeping up the gutters in the street or weeding concrete."
      With: "Until the weeds stormed the concrete from unattended cracks."
  • Careful with That Axe
  • Concept Album: Somewhere at the 'Bottom of the River used the asian folktale told in "Four" as a point of departure and focused on strained relationships; Wildlife was a collection of "short stories" that dealt with tragedy, grief, and how we cope with them. "Rooms Of The House" is based on the concepts of time and space and how we perceive them.
  • Driven to Suicide: May be the ultimate fate of the boy in "King Park." The narrator departs from the scene, unwilling to "know how it ends."
    • He did.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The family in "HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956"
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Done to an "asian folktale" in "Four." The same folktale later became a "jumping off point" for the album Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair and The Worth of the World.
  • Grief Song: Averted by the songs on Wildlife, which are less about grief itself and more about how we cope with it. Played straight on ''Somewhere at the 'Bottom of the River," which is a concept album about strained relationships.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Attempted in "King Park." Whether it was a successful is another matter...
  • Murder by Mistake: Apparently what had occurred in "King Park."
  • New Sound Album: Wildlife was more a more wholesome effort than its predecessor, and concerned more with melody and chord progression. There's a lot more of the band playing in unison. This change was viewed as positive, and the album garnered critical acclaim.
  • Recap Episode: "all our bruised bodies and the whole heart shrinks" is this for the album Wildlife.
  • Siamese Twin Song: An odd example "Such Small Hands" and "Nobody, Not Even the Rain," in that they appear to be two parts of one song, but one opens and the other concludes the album, respectively. When performed as a cover or uploaded onto the internet, they are almost always spliced together, and often renamed "Nobody, Not Even the Rain Has Such Small Hands," a line from an E. E. Cummings poem, "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond." They may also form a kind of Sequel Song.
  • Spoken Word: Much of the band's output is spoken word poetry set to music, similar to MeWithoutYou.
  • Stock Phrases: The band really loves to use "darling" and "lover" in their lyrics. There's even a Drinking Game from it.
  • Stop and Go: Done twice in "Said the King to the River."
  • Title Drop: On "a Poem:" "The worst of the wildlife wears clothes and can pray."
    • "HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956:" "There is history in the rooms of the house."
  • Uncommon Time: Frequent in songs written before Wildlife, which deliberately toned this down and went with a more "synchronized" approach.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: "King Park:"
    Dreyer: "A year or two ago, down the street from where Brad and I work, a kid was shot. It's an area that's been riddled with gang violence, which has been really sad to witness."