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Bastards of the Beat

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Album Review

This Brooklyn group has a lot of assets that fans of Americana should lap up in a minute. After a brief introductory lament on the leadoff track, lead singer Alex Dezen toes the line between roots rock and alternative pop (à la Soul Asylum) on the gleeful, grin-inducing "What You Get." If there's any drawback to the song, it comes off as a tad incomplete, but the Westerberg-influenced "Kiss Catastrophe" rights the ship with an excellent, mid-tempo melancholic melody. The first breather on the album is a quasi-country ballad entitled "I'll Be Around," which sounds like a polished Wilco B-side attempt. The trumpet is a refreshing touch, though. The band nails the subsequent "Newborn History" far better, a slower and moodier effort resembling The Cash Brothers or, to a lesser extent, Goo Goo Dolls. It's also the first tune that slowly evolves into a grandiose affair, with guitarist David Chernis adding crisp solos. Later on, this is further perfected with a solid "Electric Harmony." "I Will Keep the Bad Things From You" is a far sparser number, with Dezen giving it a haunting, singer/songwriter touch that includes the sound of pages turning in the mix. Perhaps the highlight is the anthem-like pop/rock of "The Sound," driven by drummer Steven Terry, bringing to mind The BoDeans in their heyday. One of the odder tunes is the blips- and bleeps-oozing on "The Lost Complaint," a rich and sometimes lush pop song. The Damnwells again hit paydirt with the catchy roots pop of "New Dehli." Whether future albums head down a pop/rock or Americana path, this album is a near-perfect blend of both, as the delicious "Texas" proves.


Formed: 2001 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in 2001 as a full-fledged band, the Damnwells gradually came to represent the songwriting efforts of songwriter Alex Dezen, whose melodic mix of alt-country and alternative pop/rock remained consistent in spite of multiple lineup shifts. The group took root in Brooklyn, where Dezen (a former photo assistant) was joined by ex-Whiskeytown drummer Steven Terry, bassist Ted Hudson, and guitarist Dave Chernis. A series of EPs helped cement the band's sound, and the Damnwells soon found themselves...
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Bastards of the Beat, The Damnwells
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