Monday, October 27, 2008

Audio Neurotic Fixation: "Bastards of the Beat" by The Damnwells

This is an audio compilation I made featuring excerpts from the Damnwells 2003 album "Bastards of the Beat." I was introduced to the band when they opened for Juliana Hatfield a number of years back, and they ended up being the highlight of that show. Certainly a group deserving of more attention, and an album that can be enjoyed all the way through without skipping. Here's a brief review of each track.

  1. "Assholes": A really nice way to start the album, at only about 30 seconds, and rather mellow for its pissy intent. There's a full version of this one out there, but it's tricky to come by, so I'm a bit miffed by that.

  2. "What You Get": Rousing, radio-friendly pop-rock in the Bryan Adams tradition. No really, I don't mean that critically. It's a good time, with peppy guitars and a callback.

  3. "Kiss Catastrophe": Another pleaser, as a n'er-do-well sings to the girl with whom he has a conflicted relationship.

  4. "I'll Be Around": The line "you know my demons are too bold for hell" is a great one, but just does not belong in such a tame song. I do like the horns, and it generally sounds like a lowkey Crowes number, but lead singer Alex Dezen cannot sell a bad boy image.

  5. "Newborn History": Now playing plaintive, Dezen's all over. This is a pussy-wettener you don't have to feel guilty about, thanks to the critical tone of the lyrics.

  6. "I Will Keep The Bad Things From You": See above, replacing "critical" with "ironic." Grand promises are made in the name of love, then immediately undercut by lowered expectations. Just a great song; a wolf in sheep's clothing.

  7. "Sleepsinging": We've hit the album's sweet spot, though I confess bias here, as this was the theme song of a break-up I had years back. "Each day you bring me closer to going nowhere; like sleep walking I'm sleepsinging."

  8. "The Sound": ...and we're back to the unit-shifters, but damnit, this is good for what it is. I'd evoke the Eagles, but I fucking hate the Eagles.

  9. "The Lost Complaint": As above, so below. I dig that chorus.

  10. "Electric Harmony": I know it must seem like damning with faint praise, but these days an album that consistently entertains without excessive variation is pretty uncommon, right?

  11. "New Delhi": A bit more jangly than the rest, and snarky as fuck. This one's about a problem child, y'see?

  12. "Star/Fool": Another standout, as it's heavier and somewhat more sparse, but still pop at its core.

  13. "Texas": A dreamy, romantic number to close things out... except there's that bane of the CD listener's existence: the hidden track. God damn the Beatles for starting that shit! Kicks in at 7:05, and a bit dreary thanks to the organ and vocal delivery. Not bad, but not worth the wait.

If you'd like to hear more, here's my favorite cut off the album, "Sleepsinging." I'd have posted the official video, but embedding was disabled. You can see it here.

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