Sunday, June 6, 2010

#42 Run run run with the Dandy Warhols

I first heard of the Dandy's when I was living in Calgary in 2003. I was running the music department at a chain book store and I remember one day unpacking a box of new releases and seeing the 'Welcome to the Monkey House' album. If you are into rock history like I am, then one glance at the cover is enough to interest you. 'Monkey House is an all black cover with a big yellow banana being unzipped. This homage to Andy Warhol, not to mention the band is named the Dandy Warhols, was enough for me to throw it into the player and check it out. What came into my ears that first listen was something I had been waiting a long time for. It had been years since a band had excited me that much and it would be at least a few years before I would get that excited about another record.

The thing I really loved about it was that it seemed so different and very genuine while at the same time being very artsy and psychedelic. It was definitely the gateway album to the rest of their discography. The only sad thing I would be forced to learn in years after was that 'Monkey House' was their swan song, and that other then the odd solid track, this was pretty much it for the band. The good news is that their was another four albums previous to 'Monkey House' that are also incredibly solid.

The band was founded in Portland,Oregon in 1993 by local artist and singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor. He brought in friends Zia McCabe (keyboards), Peter Holmström (lead guitar), and Eric Hedford (drums). Taylor-Taylor's cousin Brent De Boer took over on the drums when Hedford left in 1998 to join the group 'Magic Fingers'. They would all begin knitting this incredibly diverse and strange new form of rock that sounds something like a cross between the Velvet Underground, Blur and T-Rex. They are glam rock while at the same time being psychedelic without being stupid and they are artsy without sacrificing intelligence and great instrumentation.

Other then 'Monkey House' I would have to say my next fave album is their self released double album 'The Black album/Come on Feel the Dandy Warhols'. It is so dark and raw that you can tell after one listen why no major label would release this album. It fits that analogy of 'No Junk, No Soul' because it is so full of power and soul but at the same time it makes you wonder how much drugs Courtney and the band were doing at this point because they sound totally saturated. This double album is full of gold and contains an epic version of AC/DC's 'Hells Bells' which is the answer to the question "Hey I wonder what it would sound like if AC/DC took a ton of Heroin and made an acoustic album?"

The first three Warhols albums; Dandy's Rule ok (1995), The Dandy Warhols Come Down (1997) and The Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (2000) are fantastic records and contain the most straight laced brand of alt rock the band would make as after the Monkey House in 2003 they began getting overly self indulgent and started making more of a pop sounding dribble. As I said before however, there are are a few good tracks on later albums, but the vast majority is a little to narcissistic for my tastes and the writing is Taylor-Taylor descending into a Jagger like stance thinking he is the greatest thing to ever happen to rock. The sad part there is that unlike Taylor-Taylor, Jagger actually IS a rock god, not just a wicked little band from Portland. Please don't mistake this for saying they aren't awesome though because they are, especially on 'Monkey House' I just think the later work has a little too much ego throughout. In my opinion, stick to the early stuff and you will be totally satisfied.
Here are some choice cuts from the Dandys.
PS. check out 'I am a Scientist', it is co-written by David Bowie
oh, and HAHAHAHAH If you check out the first track on Welcome to the Monkey House, it states 'When Michael Jackson dies, we're covering blackbird."
so here it is!


Anonymous said...

I love old Dandy Warhols!! whatever has happened to them....sigh

Tosho said...

I hear you on that one, person who is most likely my mom. They used to be so amazing and they sure fell harder and faster then a sack full of bricks.