QUICK SPINS: The Dandy Warhols, Paul Weller
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 26, 2012 8:20PM
In which we take a quick look at a few recent musical releases.
If there's one thing you can't accuse The Dandy Warhols of over their 18 year history together, it's of being predictable. The group is constantly shifting its sound to fit their current interests, so it's somewhat surprising that despite style shifting their back catalog is surprisingly strong.
From the insistent drums and fervent bassline the opens "Sad Vacation," the first track on their latest album, This Machine, you can tell The Dandy Warhols are embracing an aggressive rock mode for this outing. While we're certainly fans of The Dandy's more sprawling material, the songs here are succinct and crafted to detonate with maximum effect with each deployment. Even the instrumental "Alternative Power To The People" zips along at a frenetic pace that is sure to leave you short of breath if you try to dance along to it. Things slow down in the middle of the proceedings to give singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor a chance to deploy his patented sexy whisper-singing. And then were in the middle of one of the most unabashedly poppy songs of the bands career, the bouncy "I Am Free." And if you're a fan of the bands more psychedelic leanings, then there's still something for you in the album's closing minutes as the haunting "Don't Shoot She Cried" drifts slowly downward.
From start to finish This Machine is one of the band's most immediately gratifying albums from the first listen on. The quartet doesn't release music as often as we'd like them to, but as long as their output keeps getting stronger with age we won't complain.
The Dandy Warhols play June 10 at The Metro.
While we are big fans of The Jam we know we court calls of "Blasphemy!" when we admit we haven't really cared much for Paul Weller's work outside of that band's existence. We know he's an icon, but his output has just never resonated that strongly. So we didn't expect too much from Sonik Kicks, his latest solo effort, but after hearing the album we're more certain than ever that every artist, no matter what you're opinion, deserves a listen since they can very well surprise you.*
Sonik Kicks has the herky-jerky energy of a young man's impatience. Weller has hard time sitting still here, and his finest moments are on the rockers that dominate the album. There's a tinge of the psychedelic to those tunes—in fact if you're looking for an easy sonic touchpoint this disc could pass for a new Super Furry Animals album. When the album slows down it's pace it does risk losing momentum to briskly English parlor musings; when done well as on "Sleep Of The Serene" it has a refreshing effect, but when it's cloying as on "By The Waters" it can almost sink you. But that is a rare moment in a otherwise adventurous disc.
So, after listening to Sonik Kicks, if you're a fan of Weller you will remain a fan. And everyone else? This is an excellent place to start.
*Unless you are Fred Durst, in which case there really is no hope.