Saturday, April 18, 2009

Review: Friends of Dennis Wilson - Self Titled

Friends of Dennis Wilson
-Self Titled
--No Gold Records

(words: milo)
(photo: Bryan Hainer)

A cutting, echoey guitar starts rumbling along like the stiff gravely wheels of an oncoming Harley, slogging and growling its way up over the horizon of some desolate desert squeezing a lonely roadway. The drums start stepping along as a surf-toned second guitar weaves its way in before the heroically crashing crescendo collides like a bull through plate glass. Singer Tony Moran conjures a snaky vocal melody that swaggers along with the bass and sets a shoulder-shimmeyed-groove before exploding again into a sanctimonious yearning for the open road, a declaration to run free.

And, thus, all of the haunting capriciousness of the Friends of Dennis Wilson is captured in the opening minute of “Thunder Header”: their provincial crunchy metal-y riffs, their head-swimming reverb, their soulful grooves, their surf-rock incantations. It’s all bound together by a reverence for classic 60’s rock, and early rough-hewn psychedelia; a belief in the danger that rock n roll can represent; a dark swirling shoegaze-blazed dystopia that inspires escapism, a feeling like the brighter the acerbic flames of your pedal-pushed guitars than the more cathartic the reinvigorating pull upon your soul, pouring out into the ether; that sweet, scary as hell ether that sits waiting for you at the indeterminate end of “the open road.” After years of forging on down this psyche-rock road, Moran finds himself with a set line up forging a stronger chemistry than any FODW formation before it.

That they had to fight for this record (against breaking equipment, band-mates leaving, or mother nature herself) shows in the moaning bass, the fiery guitars and the tripped-out tones (“Casting Yarrow Stalks”), it bleeds through with epic builds and slow-chugging, layered narratives of hovering haunts, jangled guitars, yanked backwards and stretched out into supernatural middle-grounds of shoegaze, folk and druggy singer/songwriter dirges (“Death Valley Dune Buggy Brigade”); it shines in the steady strummed spook-pop of whirled guitar drifts and dual vocal haunts (“To Come To Now).” FODW records before Self-Titled had their own powerful punches, but none seemed to ring with as much assurance – they were more like a formidable tumblers of colliding ideas in the feedback-heavy world of dark-psyche-pop, but the hard cutting swoon of the riffs (“Angela”) and the brazen atmospheric grime (“Zodiac Mindfuck”) mixed in with tunes that shine out the bands energetic live show (“Liquid Space”) sets a reaffirmation-vibe for the group – and holds promise for what’s to come… listen at:

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