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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Dandy Warhols
Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars
Capitol Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 5, 2005
In Dandy Warhols' history, this is the age known as A.D. - that is, After Dig, the music documentary that asks the question, "What if two underground, psychedelic rock bands started a feud and nobody cared?" Well, people do care about the Dandy Warhols, the commercially successful yin to Brian Jonestown Massacre's self-destructive yang. Mostly, those people are Europeans who aren't threatened by how good-looking Dandies' front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor is, and they probably kind of enjoy how pompous he is as he's always thumbing his nose at his critics - those critics frequently being American males whose egalitarian sensibilities he offends with every pretty-boy pout, every snotty sneer.

Even the name Taylor-Taylor sounds foppish and ridiculously arrogant, doesn't it? And he doesn't go out of his way to ingratiate himself with anybody, least of all the press. Case in point: "Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold." Never mind the name; it has nothing to do with the track whatsoever. The intro to the Dandies' latest release, Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars, "Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold" is TV anchorman Bill Kurtis giving a history of The Dandy Warhols. Only it's all a lie. Kurtis relates that "By the end of the great war, The Dandy Warhols had progressed far beyond the traditional jug band sound" and had gone on to create pickups, amplifiers, synthesizers and nothing less than rock 'n roll itself. At first, it sounds like a bad joke, an attempt at being self-deprecating that went horribly awry. And then you realize it's just the Dandies being cheeky, amusing themselves like bad schoolchildren do. You'll laugh weakly. Like me, you might even think back to how Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz break character in every damn Saturday Night Live sketch they were ever in. They weren't the least bit funny and neither are The Dandy Warhols, but they don't care.

To choruses like "Don't quit your day jobs" - which a lot of critics wish they'd do - the Dandies offer Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars: by far the best Dandy Warhols' record to date, Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars is a three-ring circus of dazed psychedelic rock, shambling country and, gasp!, disco? The Dandies go for broke here, using sunny horns that bleed and blare over their trademark keyboard haze, and guitars played in pell-mell fashion as if the band is running from the cops. It's refreshing to hear them rejecting all notions of what people think they should sound like, especially when they get down Stone Roses-style and go all Madchester with the sly bass groove of "Easy." Freed from a prison of expectations, the Dandies go off on weird sonic explorations into places they once feared to tread, like the menacing Sonic Youth-like blackness of "Love Is The New Feel Awful" or the ballsy, fuel-injected drive of "All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey." Is it art or is it self-indulgent wankery? Given a choice, I'll go with art.

Strumming tinny guitar riffs that later turn tough and meaty, and employing stylish horns bleating elongated notes, "All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey" is a tight-as-hell, Supergrass-style rave-up inspired by Primal Scream and Exile On Main Street-era Rolling Stones, complete with wailing female backing vocals. Taking the baton and running with it is "Smoke It," the first single. It's a swaggering rocker that flies down Highway 61 Revisited with Easy Rider contempt for the establishment, megaphone-distorted lead vocals and wild backing whoops and hollers, contorted guitar and unkempt percussion. Even more rambunctious is "The New Country," which sounds like that same jug band Kurtis discussed - only this one is on a crystal meth binge and wired beyond belief.

Neo-psychedelia is still the Dandies' bread and butter, and on the swirling, dreamy "Down Like Disco," they retrofit the Jefferson Airplane with shoegazer atmospherics. With its languid vocals and trippy, melting walls of organ, "Holding Me Up" is an after-hours party in a scary carnival funhouse and "Did You Make A Song With Otis" is a warped version of The Lemonheads, as played by clowns on acid. Gone from Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars are the long periods of monotony that turned Welcome To The Monkey House and The Dandy Warhols Come Down into sonic quicksand. Instead, when the Dandies come to forks in the road, their arrangements wander off into uncharted territory that's worth exploring.

Getting back to Dig, there's no denying the artistic rivalry that exists between Newcombe and Taylor-Taylor. It's sort of a Jeff Tweedy vs. Jay Farrar for the acid-rock crowd. In the early days, it seemed to spur Newcombe and BJM to new heights of creativity. With Taylor-Taylor, it resulted in occasional flashes of brilliance, like the sun-dazed, stoned classic "Boys Better," and a lot of misguided experimentation. A little older, but perhaps no wiser, Taylor-Taylor and the Dandies have finally hit on a formula that works. It's your move, Anton.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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