The Damnwells | Air Stereo (Rounder)

cd_damnwellsAll this drama surely raises expectations, am I right? But, unfortunately, the wait doesn't seem to have been worth it.

 

 

 

It's been too long since the Damnwells released an album. The reason, of course, is label bureaucracy; what else? The Brooklyn foursome had completed its follow-up to 2004's quietly strong Bastards of the Beat when it received word from Epic that it had been dropped. Never mind the band was in the middle of a tour, for which support was promptly rescinded, as well. Following a brief battle over ownership and rights, the Damnwells found a new home in Rounder Records, which released the unfortunately named Air Stereo in August.

cd_damnwells-picAll this drama surely raises expectations, am I right? But, unfortunately, the wait doesn't seem to have been worth it. Though Air Stereo isn't a bad album by any means, it's just largely unremarkable. Whereas with Bastards, more than a handful of songs stood out and sucked the listener in, Stereo suffers from a lack of firepower that generally leaves the listener feeling uninspired. It doesn't help that opening track "I've Got You" sounds like a bad '70s ripoff-in both name and sound.

Things improve a bit with the second song (and first single), "Accidental Man," in which David Chernis is allowed to flex a bit of guitar muscle. Of course, there's Alex Dezen's lazy, smirking drawl of a voice, always a pleasure. But the lyrics on Stereo just don't hold up to its predecessor; this time, there aren't stories so much as concepts. Just nothing to hold on to, really.

Still, the album's not without merit. In addition to the aforementioned "Accidental Man," the gently rolling "Heartbreaklist" is awfully intoxicating. But overall, it appears that the Damnwells' brief excursion into the world of major labels left them scarred and unfocused. Let's hope that a return to indie form brings back the oomph. C | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Whiskeytown, Josh Rouse

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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