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Courtney's Love-able Album
Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia - Dandy Warhols
Member Name: indiecater
Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia - Dandy Warhols
Date: 25/01/02, updated on 05/04/02 (50 review reads)
Advantages: Like The Wind In Your Hair On A Sunny Day.
Disadvantages: At Times A Little Reliant On Their Influences.
Quite how Courtney Taylor and his ragged bunch of mates motivated themselves to deliver this album is one of life's sweet mysteries. I guess the potential highlighted by 'Everyday Is A Holiday' and 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth' was enough to prove that something big was on the way. And TTFUB is music given a big canvas. Intense melody, intricate invention and a joyful plundering of the past come together to reward anybody willing to lend an ear.
The Dandy Warhols are from Portland, Oregon and this their third album was released back in the summer of 2000. Like Moby's 'Play' the album lay unnoticed until a succession of singles and an advert for a mobile phone company brought it to the world's attention.
The Dandy's have long relied on a British influence to cook their ditties but TTFUB sees them looking beyond the obvious. Perhaps this and a more studied approach to songwriting makes this album such a wonderful way to spend 3 quarters of an hour.
Right from the off the echoing chords of 'Godless' sound heavenly and the scene is bolstered further by some sweet sounding trumpets. The vocals have a mystic feel, a sort of dazed yet ultimately coherent descent into the unknown. The trip shimmers along on its delicate way on 'Mohammed', an instrumental with periodic vocal interludes.
To a large extent the heavy strings on 'Nietzshe' could be a Jesus & Mary composition. It's not until the cleverly synchronised vocals arrive that Courtney Taylor sounds all the world for Mark Gardner from Ride (we'll try and forget the Animalhouse). Such dynamics can't help but sound like the past being lovingly resurrected but the new coat of paint has all the colours of the rainbow and a perfunctory pot of gold.
At this point the album skews off at a tangent. 'Country Leaver
9; lives up to its billing, dollops of grainy chords and a mock south Carolina accent turns the album on its head. Thankfully the admittedly catchy interlude is replaced by 'Solid's take on what Johnny Cash would have written were he born 3 decades later. Not too clever but instant foot tapping inspiration all the same.
There is the odd rare occasion where TTFUB fails to impress. 'Horse Pills' is one such moment where a sloppy Sonic Youth pastiche neither provokes nor titillates. The feedback is too loose to be of worth and the chorus is as plodding as a broken down PC.
When Courtney Taylor's eye trains on a consistent melody the result is a knock your socks off dinger. Eerily close to the sound of 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly' the drama of 'Get Off' unfolds with surreptitious charm. When a song hits the bullseye with such accuracy the temptation to hit the tiles with gay abandon is overwhelming.
On a much more laidback note 'Sleep' drifts in on a horsedrawn wish. Beautifully tilted, it makes for the dreamiest soundtrack yet to be compiled. The guitars jangle so sweetly they could conspire the clouds into the shape of an octave. The vocals are those of a seasoned crooner returning from a 12 year stint in Barbados. Effortless and genuinely inspiring.
With his gallery of personas Taylor consistently reinvents himself throughout the album. 'Cool Scene' has a psychedelic edge that propels the melody through the ages. Sitars squirm, the percussion rattles along and the guitarist from the Byrds plucks some uneven notes. As the streamlined chorus rumbles into town an Altmanesque type shortcut knits the parts together to create a seamless pattern.
Perhaps 'Bohemian Like You' has done more than anything to swing popular appeal towards the Dandy's. It's hard not to agree because the jump
ed up enthusiasm and ready charm are infectious and in copious supply. With the sort of cool that could make any politician sophisticated where he to use at his election rally 'Bohemian Like You' has the ring (pun!) of a classic.
At times the Dandy Warhols unashamedly reveal their sources. 'Shakin' is so close to Elastica's 'Line Out' that a polygraph would be unable to decipher between the two. That Iggy Pop lilt adds the requisite twist to carve out the Warhols signature. 'Big Indian' could have been an Evan Dando piece such is its melancholic drag. That said the leaden energy has a homespun quality to brighten up those fireside winter evenings.
To put a colourful bow on the Dandy's present to us they wrap things up with a tearful 'Gospel'. Blessed with a heart that would melt fluffy snow the subtle slide guitar co-operates so effectively with the soft words you'll hardly notice the tears streaming down your face.
'Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia' is a wonderful indication of the Dandy Warhols worth. There are influences creeping through on almost every song but the band cast such magnetic attention to wistful melody that the output is ultimately their own creation. The music is both old fashioned and a powerful argument for guitar based music's renaissance. TTFUB should be cherished and will likely attain a formidable status with the passage of time.