|The Dandy Warhols — Distortland (April 8th, 2016)|
The Dandy Warhols — Distortland (April 8th, 2016)
•★• Grunge–inspired alternative pop from Portland that blends indie, garage rock, psychedelic touches, and dance to brilliant effect.
Formed: 1992 in Portland, OR
Location: Portland, OR
Album release: April 8th, 2016
Record Label: Dine Alone
01 Search Party 3:43
02 Semper Fidelis 3:25
03 Pope Reverend Jim 3:46
04 Catcher in the Rye 3:02
05 STYGGO 4:19
06 Give 2:57
07 You Are Killing Me 3:41
08 All the Girls in London 2:45
09 Doves 4:14
10 The Grow Up Song 1:39
By Laura Sciarpelletti, Published Apr 06, 2016; Score: 9
•• True fans of Portland, OR outfit the Dandy Warhols know that the group maintain an infinite curiosity, even in the relatively under–the–radar years since their most popular hit “Bohemian Like You” hit the airwaves. But after nine studio albums and nowhere near the success of their “We Used To Be Friends” days, the Dandys are free to stay 100% true to the sound they want, and they’ve done just that with their tenth album, Distortland.
•• This LP is pure Dandy Warhols, saturated with Courtney Taylor–Taylor’s moody, drawled vocals, wailing guitars and introspective, oddball lyricism. It’s clear from the first bars of opener “Search Party” that the Dandys decided to focus on a guitar–driven sound here, Taylor–Taylor’s party–hard–then–write–a–song method continuing after having carried the band throughout their career. It’s a sound that’s cemented them as a highly consistent group with plenty of lyrical depth to plumb.
•• A no–doubt fast favourite for fans, “Pope Reverend Jim” has a real neo–Buddy Holly feel to it, and “All the Girls in London” proves that the band can still pen songs as effortlessly catchy as they always have. The first single off the album, “You Are Killing Me” showcases the group’s signature angst–ridden pop style, but it’s the playful songs like “Catcher in the Rye,” driven by a relentless bass line, underlying intelligence and a stoner vibe, that make Distortland such a joy to listen to.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung; Score: ***½
•• Distortland, the ninth studio LP from Portland, Oregon quartet the Dandy Warhols, continues the band’s post–Odditorium maturation, taming a bit of their edge. As singer Courtney Taylor–Taylor acknowledges on “The Grow Up Song,” “I’ve got to admit, I’m too old for this shit.” With less sleaze and more reflection, the Dandies retain their wit with a wink, but aren’t as sneering as on prior releases. While their most popular hits tend to veer toward the infectious pop side of the spectrum, most of their albums contain a hefty amount of trippy dreamscapes. Distortland isn’t as in–your–face as the more muscular tracks on This Machine, nor is it as shiny as Welcome to the Monkey House. Without any immediate hits like “We Used to Be Friends” or “Bohemian Like You,” the band seems to have left behind that commercial urge on Distortland, instead focusing on vibes and sensations. The album struts but never fully rocks out, leaning heavily on the dulcet side. There are a few moments where the Dandies allow that grit to dirty things a bit, like on the nocturnal creep of “Semper Fidelis,” whose sinister crunch could fit nicely alongside Monkey House’s darker selections. The rollicking surf–boogie of “Pope Reverend Jim” sounds like a collision between “The Rockafeller Skank” and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, while the chugging power pop of single “You Are Killing Me” would make Weezer proud. Otherwise, Distortland is ready–made for wandering open roads and tripping out in grassy fields, especially on the enveloping fuzz of “Give.” The psych–haze billows in on the opening “Search Party,” a ‘60s–style acid wash that floats along on a synth cloud and hand claps, while “Catcher in the Rye” is a classic Dandies plodder with Zia McCabe’s elastic bass providing a mellow bounce that sounds like the sibling to 2003’s “I Am Over It.” Other nostalgic nods pop up elsewhere: the bongo jam “STYGGO” (“some things you gotta get over”) is a toned–down “Cool Scene,” and the sun–splashed epic “Doves” could fit in nicely on the back end of Earth to the Dandy Warhols. While the band remains eclectic, exploring some new concepts and expanding on past sonics, Distortland doesn’t meander as much as the Dandies have on past efforts, keeping things relatively focused. Although it isn’t their strongest work, Distortland is an enjoyable late–era addition to their catalog that breathes as much as it pleases.
Artist Biography by Greg Prato
•• The psychedelic alternative quartet the Dandy Warhols formed in Portland, Oregon in 1994. Initially, the band invited comparisons to influences the Velvet Underground and Ride, but their cool, detached demeanors and knack for melody also provided America with an answer to Brit–pop. The Dandy Warhols were founded by Courtney Taylor (vocals, guitar), Zia McCabe (keyboards), Peter Holmstrom (guitar), and Eric Hedford (drums), who signed on with the independent label Tim/Kerr shortly after their formation. In 1995, the Dandies released their debut, Dandy’s Rule OK?, and while other rock bands may be a bit hesitant to spell out their influences, the Dandy Warhols decided to openly advertise it, as the album contained such song titles as “Lou Weed” and “Ride.”
•• Capitol signed the group the same year, but the Dandys’ new label rejected a second album they submitted (claiming it didn’t have any “hits”). Disappointed but undeterred, the group reunited once more with the producer of their debut album, Tony Lash, and came up with Dandy Warhols Come Down, issued in 1997. While the album didn’t exactly establish the group as a household name, it did prove to be an underground fave, especially in Europe, where the group became the toast of the critics and enjoyed more substantial commercial success. The single “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth” received modest attention, for which a promo video was filmed by renowned celebrity photographer David LaChapelle. As the band’s popularity began to increase, Hedford left the band to take up DJing in Portland, and Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer stepped in to play drums. In 2000, the band issued its third full–length, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. “Bohemian Like You” was a hit in the UK and on American college radio, going on to become one of their most iconic songs. Two summers later, founding member Peter Holmstrom married his longtime girlfriend and took her maiden name of Loew. Taylor also got a name change when he opted to go by Courtney Taylor–Taylor after an interviewer misinterpreted the pronunciation.
•• Within months, Taylor–Taylor, Loew, McCabe, and DeBoer were back in the studio for a fourth album. Welcome to the Monkey House (2003), a tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s book of short stories, featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, and Evan Dando. The Dandy Warhols were also personally asked by David Bowie to be the opening act for his fall 2003 A Reality tour. That album spawned another hit for the band, the synth–disco jam, “We Used To Be Friends.” Though the band was relatively quiet during 2004, they remained prominent thanks to the fascinating documentary Dig!, which chronicled the love–hate relationship between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The group returned with new music in 2005, when the uneven Odditorium or Warlords of Mars arrived that fall. Three years later, the Dandy Warhols released their sixth album, the return–to–form Earth to the Dandy Warhols, in both digital and physical formats on their own Beat the World label; the album also featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell. In 2009, the band decided to release a reworking of Monkey House titled The Dandy Warhols Are Sound, which, according to the band, presented their original vision of the 2003 album. 2010 saw big changes for the group, as they split with Capitol Records and released a greatest–hits from that era, which included a new track, “This Is the Tide,” the first Dandy’s song featuring DeBoer on vocals. The Dandies continued their maturation in sound with their ninth album, 2012’s This Machine. In 2013, the band rang in the 13th anniversary of their break–out third album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, by reissuing a deluxe version of the LP and heading out on the road to perform the album live. The tour resulted in the band’s first–ever live album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia Live at the Wonder. A second live recording, Live at the X–Ray Cafe, was released by Voodoo Doughnut for Record Store Day in 2016. The EP captured their eighth gig ever from 1994. That same year, their growth continued on their ninth studio album, the patient and pastoral Distortland.
Review by Raul Stanciu, April 5th, 2016; Score: 3.2
•• I must admit I wasn’t expecting such a short album. They have always created complete journeys, no matter how awesome or half–baked. Narrowing things down might be an experiment, yet I’d blame them for their indolence. There are a handful of potential hits on Distortland, still they needed some structuring or at least a more powerful instrumental to be compelling. Although they have maintained that “keep it to the point” theory throughout their works, those 3–4 chords left bare bones cannot work wonders every time. Quite a shame, they could do so much better...maybe next time.
|The Dandy Warhols — Distortland (April 8th, 2016)|