Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beth’s Music Moment: The Dandy Warhols’ “Distortland”

You are killing me
And everything you love about me

~~ “You Are Killing Me” by the Dandy Warhols

I’m taking a break from thinking too hard about politics today so I’ll do an album review.

For a while now, my playlist has been old Duran Duran, middle Duran Duran, John Taylor of Duran Duran, and new Duran Duran. I hear other songs on satellite radio and places like that, but when I take the time to listen to a whole album, it’s been the Birmingham lads.

I changed that this week because I got the new release from Portland’s Dandy Warhols, Distortland. It’s a...well, it’s a dandy!

I can’t remember how I came across the Dandys several years ago. Maybe I heard “Bohemian Like You,” or maybe I just saw their name and thought it was clever and cool. The first album I got into was the one with that song, 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia, and I played it a lot. Of course, then I had to get all their previous albums. You know how that goes.

So although I didn’t discover them when they first started, I’ve liked them for a while now. They are on my short list of bands I want to see live.

The new album has that unmistakable Dandys sound, with Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s breathy baritone and Zia McCabe’s sweet harmonizing and keyboards. Peter Holmström adds crunchy guitar and Brent DeBoer adds the backbeat on drums. This is classic Dandys, atmospheric and almost kind of droning, but in the best possible way. Many of the songs totally rock, with catchy hooks and singable choruses, but there is also a calmness and a meditative quality that makes you just want to kick back with the headphones on and zone out. (If you are so inclined, a little herb would make this an enjoyable listening experience indeed. Hey, they are from Portland, Oregon, after all!)

As for CTT and Zia’s harmonies, it struck me as I was listening to this maybe the third or fourth time that they remind me so much of one of my ‘80s favorites, X! Their voices together remind me a lot of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. No wonder I like them so much! (Check out some great John and Exene harmonies on “Blue Spark.”)

My favorites on the album are “Semper Fidelis,” which has a driving, crunchy guitar; “Pope Reverend Jim” with its fun chorus (“Everybody loves Pope Reverend Jim!”) and a bit of a '50s style to it; “STYGGO,” which has a bunch of nice, singable “do do do’s”; and “You Are Killing Me,” which is just a great pop song with an infectious chorus and the aforementioned pretty harmonies of CTT and Zia.

If I have any complaint about the album it’s that it isn’t longer! I would have enjoyed three or four more songs on it and I’m sure I would love them as much as I love the songs actually on the album. But hey, I’m really happy that one of my favorites is still making great music and still touring! I highly recommend this and I think you’ll enjoy it if you give it a listen.

Here is the video for “You Are Killing Me,” which has an interesting twist at the end. In watching it again, I picked up on a few photos that I didn’t think much about when I first watched it. But with the name at the end, it all made sense. It is an interesting connection to the Dandy Warhols.