11 Songs | MR063 | Release Date 2010
Of the many bands that have sprouted from the Grifters, Dragoon may be the most Griftersy of all, building on the soulful lo-fi cacophony of the band's early 1990s material. What's surprising, however, is that Dragoon features neither of the original guitar players or singers. Instead, this is the rhythm section's offshoot: Bass player Tripp Lamkins and drummer Stan Gallimore formed the group with Little Rock native and former Trusty singer Bobby Matthews. The decade-plus since the Grifters went on indefinite hiatus hasn't dulled the musicians' menacing undertow. On Dragoon's debut, The Offending Party, Gallimore still estimates the beat and pounds out emphatic fills, and Lamkins continues to straddle the line between low/rhythmic and high/melodic. At times he's another thudding kick drum, other times another wailing lead guitar. These elements are familiar but welcome, as Dragoon captures the same barely contained chaos, the maelstrom just barely formed into music, as their previous band.
Matthews is the new factor in the group, and he simultaneously adds to the scribbly commotion of a song like "Problemo" and shapes it into something new. Trusty were briefly signed to Dischord, which explains the hardercore sound on The Offending Party, particularly the declarative rumble of "Chad's Lament" and "Idea Man". As a singer, he changes his approach on every song, showing off a lowdown howl on opener "Excuses Excuses", tiptoeing sneakily on "I Can Relate", affecting a mod accent on "Lugnut", and declaiming angrily on "Truce". Meanwhile, his guitar vies against the rhythm section for supremacy, as if Dragoon is less a band than a knife fight with instruments. "Problemo" threatens to fall apart repeatedly, as if Gallimore is sabotaging the groove. But the trio wrestle the song to a proper ending, and its midtempo pace makes it all the more seedily clangorous.
Rather than detract from these song s, that harsh instrumental friction actually enlivens these songs, distinguishing Dragoon from not only the Grifters and Trusty, but from all their offshoots and acolytes. When the power trio hits the straightaway stretches on "If You Say So" and "Golden Hips", they sound like their own band, beholden to no particular legacy and anchored squarely in the moment. These 90s refugees aren't living in the past: The Offending Party is worth hearing not simply because the current nostalgia for the last decade's lo-fi has made these musicians suddenly (more) relevant, but mainly because they sound like they haven't missed a beat in years.
— Stephen M. Deusner via Pitchfork