Best tunes of 2012: #27 The Dandy Warhols “I am free”

<< #28    |    #26 >>

When The Dandy Warhols last graced these pages, it was September in 2017 and they were hitting up the number two spot on my Best tunes of 2000 list with the very, very excellent, “Bohemian like you”. I wrote in that post how I saw them live before I had properly become familiar with their music but was so enthused by their set that I purchased “Thirteen tales from urban bohemia” on CD a few years later, without first hearing a note. The rest was history, I suppose. I bought “Welcome to the monkey house” when it came out in 2003, watched the 2004 documentary “Dig!”, and went back to explore their 1990s output. It seemed to me that I had found a new favourite band – I’ve had many over the years – but then, the Dandies went through a period where their excesses were allowed to overflow their bubbling cauldron. I couldn’t get into their 2005 album, “Odditorium or warlords of mars”, at all, and ditto for its successor, 2008’s “…Earth to the Dandy Warhols…”. I moved on.

The Portland, Oregon based alternative rock quartet were relatively quiet for the next bunch of years, their only musical releases being an alternate version of “Monkey house” (called “The Dandy Warhols are sound”) that came out in 2009 and ‘best of’ compilation released by their old label just before they parted ways with them in 2010. There were murmurs of a new album in 2011 when frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor joked about potential album titles while on tour. However, when “This machine” was finally launched in the spring of 2012, it came upon me as a surprise. Being the forgiving sort that I am, I gave it a spin and it ended up being featured on my old blog, Music Insanity, as one of my favourite releases of the month.

For this album, The Dandy Warhols opted for a simpler, ‘stripped down’ approach and for me, it felt a lot less excessive and a lot more palatable. “I am free”, for example, contrives to sneak up to some of their early singles and rival them in the ear worm category. The jumping and reverberating guitar line by Peter Holmström deserves a true guitar rock god stance, legs spread wide and axe held aloft. Brent De Boer pounds the drums and Zia McCabe holds the bass line steady and true. Taylor-Taylor, of course, fronts it all with his usual tongue in cheek attitude, his laidback, slacking delivery giving it just the right vibe. And when the horns kick in at the end, it doesn’t even feel like they’re crowding themselves into an already packed room. It feels effortless and easy.

Yeah. “I am free” is easily my favourite song on the album but it is by no means the only good track. To me, it was like a comeback of sorts, a righting of the ship, a beginning of a new course that followed the band through the string of their next bunch of albums.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.

Playlist: The ultimate playlist

Well, hello there. Did the title catch your attention? Did you think it was hyperbole? Or perhaps a bit full of itself? I guess time will tell.

I’ve tried this before and have let the rope drop but somehow, this time, I think the experiment will work. My aim here is to create an infinite playlist, much like that of Nick and Norah, a playlist of songs that just continues to grow and evolve by itself, much like life and love does. I started adding songs to it a couple of weeks ago, just before the COVID-19 scare took hold for real here in Canada. I’ve since been spending a lot of time around the house and slowing life down quite a bit. The spectre of things has been weighing heavy and I’ve found myself wanting (even more so than usual) to rock out to some excellent tunes. I started things off with my favourite Manic Street Preachers tune from the mid 90s and have been letting my mood dictate things from there. Since I started the mix on that Sunday night in mid-March, I’ve added to it over a couple of different sessions while wearing earphones and sipping at a beer and now we’re up just past the 100 song and seven hour mark. A good time as any to share it with you all.

There’s no real theme for this playlist, unless you count that I am trying to include some my biggest and best tunes from across the decades. Of course, it reflects my own tastes, which tend towards the alternative and indie rock side of the musical spectrum, pretty much anything left of the dial.  So far I’ve name-checked punk and post-punk and post-punk revival, ska, goth, shoegaze, dream pop, indie folk, psychedelic rock, Madchester, britpop, new wave, alt-country, and art rock. I’ve danced and dabbled across the decades and I think thus far, haven’t included more than one song per artist. However, I don’t intend to continue that particular trend because a lot of these artists have way more than one good song and I don’t want to impose such strict limitations on this mix.

So depending on when you happen upon these words, whether just after I publish them today or perhaps even a year or two down the road, this playlist could last you a good evening’s drink or perhaps an excellent road trip or a weekend painting the house. It may get super unruly and daunting but that is okay. It could be that you might want to throw it on shuffle, though there is some sort of method to this madness, or you may just want to sample a segment based on a name or two piquing interest.

Give this ole playlist a follow and check in with me from time to time and might I suggest opening a beer as you do so. It might help you get into the spirit of things a bit more because, yeah, it is meant to be a party of sorts. Cheers!

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

Best tunes of 2012: #28 Dr. Dog “These days”


<< #29    |    #27 >>

Dr. Dog was formed by Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1999. They’ve had a number of different members come in and out of their midst and have released ten albums and a handful of EPs over the past couple of decades, but have never really managed to crack mass culture consciousness. Indeed, they might have never even managed to catch my own attention had it not been for fellow blogger, John Hubner over at Complex Distractions. I’m 100% certain I first read about these guys when he wrote about Dr. Dog’s sixth, “Be the void”, the album on which this song can be heard, on a previous iteration of Mr. Hubner’s very excellent blog.

The band name was what first caught my attention. (Much like every person I’ve mentioned them to since, my own first words upon reading their name was: “What a great band name”.) But it was Hubner’s description of their psych rock sound that had me searching them out. “Be the void” was on regular rotation for me after that first meeting in 2012 and I recommended them to my good friend Andrew Rodriguez, who also enjoyed their carefree sound. And now, every time their name comes up, which is pretty much every time I see him, Rodriguez tells the story of how he met some guy wearing a Dr. Dog toque at an Oh Sees show. Funny, the stuff that sticks with us.

Track three on “Be the void” is this two and three-quarter minute ditty that shakes with the shakers and whose frenetic guitars match the piano madness and heavy drum pacing. It feels not a little bit like the energy of an early Strokes barnburner, but there’s less anger here and more laissez-faire attitude. Indeed, it’s easy-going psych rock with an über-peppy pop tone, just plain fun all around. And as John Hubner said in his aforementioned post back in 2012: “If you don’t like Dr. Dog, check to make sure you have a pulse.”

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.