The Dandy Warhols are one of the many underrated bands today, never quite breaking through to the big-time. But they’ve caught flak from the underground, too: Ever since the band signed to Capitol Records in 1996, they have been looked down on by their peers, fans, and ‘rival’ band, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The fact is, they have been making damn good music and don’t deserve the shit they’re getting. Sure the Jonestown Massacre is known as the Velvet Underground of the 90’s, but their music has never been as fun and poppy as the Dandys.
Since their 2003 concept album, Welcome To The Monkey House (Capital Records), many exciting things happened for the Dandy’s career. The song “We Used To Be Friends” received play time on one of the most popular shows for teenager’s today, Fox’s The O.C.
Also, Ondi Timoner’s documentary, Dig!, the insightful film about the music industry today was a notable art-house success. The film shows the rivalry and the path of The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Although the film shows BJM as the more talented band, the Dandy Warhols have always been more popular, but both bands are better known because of the film--an indie publicist’s dream.
With the release of their new album, Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars [Capital Records], fans were hoping to have the classic Dandy’s sound back, instead of the synthy one displayed on their previous album, Monkey House.
Odditorium is a mesh of all the band’s phases into one. The CD as a whole seems like an improv session rather than an actual planned studio album. The band seems to be in a confused or addled state on what to do with their sound.
The CD starts off with an intro track titled “Colder Then The Coldest Winter Was Cold.” The intro, a mockumentary on the Dandy Warhol’s place in the birth of rock and roll, is only slightly funny the first time you hear it. After hearing it once, you’ll have no desire to listen to it again. More likely, you’ll start with the second song, the nine minute “Love Is The New Feel Awful.” This track starts off with a trippy vibe and slowly decays until the only sound left is the feedback from Peter Holmstrom’s Vox amplifier.
The band’s first single, “Smoke It,” is a failed attempt for another hit like “Bohemian Like You.” The vocals are muffled and the lyrics are mumbled. The only thing this writer understood while listening to this song was “People got more baggage than JFK, Yeah And i'm talkin’ about the airport man.” Courtney Taylor-Taylor is a fabulous singer, with a dreamy voice that soothes the ears. There is absolutely no excuse for the lack of talent displayed on this track.
“All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey,” the second single from the band’s fifth album, resembles a cut off “13 Tales From An Urban Bohemia.” I say this because of the trumpet and acoustic guitar. This track feels like a happy version of “Godless.” Preceeding this song is the Dandy’s bucolic dance number, “The New Country,” which is the Dandy’s best attempt at country and is perfect to start any ho-down.
“Odditorium” is an average album and a weak attempt by the Dandy Warhols overall. I have no complaints about the longer tracks, but some are just bad, such as the over 11-minute, “A Loan Tonight.” After five minutes of this “Monkey House” reject, I wanted to turn off my CD player and drop some Prozac. Odditorium will only be enjoyable for the band’s true fans. If you’re new to the Dandy Warhols, this is not their best effort, and you should be advised to stay away from Odditorium until you’ve heard some of the band’s previous work. Then come back to it. Highly recommended is: 13 Tales From An Urban Bohemia, an astounding album that shouldn’t be passed up.