How The Dandy Warhols See Themselves

The arrival of the first Dandy Warhols album in 1995 was the freshest breath of air since the Pixies had announced themselves maybe seven, eight years earlier.  What a great sound, falling somewhere between the Velvets and the Fleshtones, with discordant yet chiming guitars and cocksure songwriting.  Courtney Taylor-Taylor was a charmingly androgynous front man, as perfectly formed as a Bowie character. They were that rare band –Oasis comes to mind — that the moment you heard them and saw their picture, you immediately categorized them as Rock Stars.  Even if their album sold ten copies, which you knew it wouldn’t; they were that good.

That they arrived just prior to their then-chums The Brian Jonestown Massacre made for more than just a classic rock documentary, Dig! The two bands together left a lasting impact on the best music that’s come our way since.  I remember the first time I heard The Morning After Girls and marveling how each song was either a paean to the Dandys or an homage to BJM.  Cool!

But then after 13 Tales of Urban Bohemia something went terribly wrong, one of the biggest train wrecks in rock history.  And it took my actually downloading the new compilation, The Capitol Years, 1995 – 2007, to efficiently listen to a great band’s decline and fall.  See, I haven’t been able to listen more than one time to any album they’ve released since the year 2000.  Earth To The Monkey Odditorium, or whatever their ghastly last three albums were called, were all such dreck you could find yourself wondering whether the early stuff was as great as we thought it was.  Happily, it is.

What presumably the band believes is the best of the material since then — after all, it weighs down the back half of the new compilation such that it all seems to slide into a compost heap — is not quite unlistenable, but it is certainly disappointing.  The Dandys went from having a unique guitar and vocal sound, funny songwriting, real craft, to being just a throbbing disco band with too many synthesizers and overuse of falsetto.  It’s passing sad.

At least we have the early stuff.

And I can’t help but thinking Anton Newcombe has the last laugh.

3 Responses to “How The Dandy Warhols See Themselves”

  1. You probably shouldn’t even bother listening to our next album. I’m sure you’ll hate that too. Sorry we didn’t make the same album over and over for you like some bands do.

  2. johnbuckley100 Says:

    Zia – I so wish that weren’t the case. Actually the last thing I would want would be for you to make “the same album over and over.” I didn’t think Thirteen Tales was the same as The Dandy Warhols; I thought it showed growth. The problem became the quality of songwriting and… come to think of it, the way the next three albums all seemed like “the same album over and over.”

    Fans get bummed when their favorite bands let them down. My appreciation for the early Dandys albums is undiminished. And I like the bass playing on all the albums. Thanks for commenting. JB

  3. […] few years ago, we complained in this space that the Dandys were coasting, that they’d never get back to the fresh-squeezed citrus tonic […]

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