Archive for The Dandy Warhols: The Capitol Years 1995-2007

At The Prompting Of The Polite Zia McCabe, We Revise And Extend Our Remarks

Posted in Music with tags , , on September 2, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Sort of.  You see, the other night Tulip Frenzy weighed in one of those world-historical important questions, to wit, “Why, after being so brilliant on their first three albums, did the the last three Dandy Warhol albums,” um, how to say this equally politely to the exchange we had with Zia? “disappoint us?”

Zia, bassist and synth player for the Dandys, took umbrage.  In the comment on Tulip Frenzy and in a subsequent email, she let it be known she thinks those who cling to their fond memories of the early albums, and particularly to the more conventional guitar-riffing rock sound, as well as those who object to the funk’n’synth heavy later albums, are just boys who like guitar bands, of which there are, apparently, a lot.

Okay, she’s got a point. And to treat her objection with respect, I went and listened, in their entirety, to Odditorium, or Warlords of Mars, and to Earth To The Dandy Warhols. (Apparently we never bothered to put Welcome To The Monkey House on our iPod.)  I’ll admit that Odditorium had many more redeeming features than I remembered, that songs like “Holding Me Up” are the equal of the good songs on Come Down, and that there even is a good song or two — okay, there are two good songs — on Earth To.

I’ll even do this:  Tulip Frenzy herein wholeheartedly endorses The Capitol Years, 1995-2007. Yes, we believe it is flawed because it doesn’t have songs like “Ride” and “Best Friend” on it, but I guess technically they never said it was the Best of The Capitol Years, now did they?

On a serious note, it is hard for bands that burst on the scene with an original sound and a bucket of chops to keep pleasing the early fans years on.  But I think Zia is wrong when she says we don’t appreciate a band as it grows.  Not true, and I’m not going to go through the list of artists whose later work I like more than the early work, but let’s just say we thought of REM and Dylan, to name two.

And in a way, the choices of the songs on The Capitol Years prove the point: “Plan A” and “Holding Me Up” and others included from the later albums show significant growth, but also capture what we love so much about the band.  A song like “Mission Control” could have been made thirty years ago by The Stranglers, or two hours ago by some other band of teenage British louts.  It’s simply not worthy of the Dandys, in our humble opinion.

It’s also not, for example, on The Capitol Years.  But several of the other really good ‘uns from the later years are.  Which is why we endorse it.

Okay, Zia?

How The Dandy Warhols See Themselves

Posted in Music with tags , , on September 1, 2010 by johnbuckley100

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.

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