Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Dilettantes - 101 Tambourines - 2007


Joel Gion's reputation as wryly charismatic observer of the chaos in the Brian Jonestown Massacre was cemented thanks to the film Dig!, but what's been a bit obscured as a result is that he's a fine performer in his own right. Calling his band's debut effort 101 Tambourines is partially a sly homage to his own preferred instrument of choice, but the Dilettantes make for an enjoyable delve into familiar but thoroughly fun rock & roll kicks. The band's guitarists, Jefferson Parker and Brock Galland, also sing and contribute songs, and the resultant combination provides an enjoyable variety to the album. Parker's own singing is a gentle but right-on glaze on his songs such as "Don't You Ever Fall" and "Never Go Without," which suits the understated bite of his tunes well, while Galland's performances on songs like "Kiss & Run" are both jaunty and just wounded enough (suiting that particular song's sentiments well). Gion's own lead vocals take understandable center stage, though, and his strong but sly speak-singing is assured and thoroughly entertaining. Hearing how he stretches out the title of "Subterranean Bazaar" is a great instance of how he takes the frontman role with style, while "Like Crazy" -- which in its own way is one of the best tributes to Tommy James' "Crimson and Clover" yet recorded -- allows him to take a more ruminative but no less sharp delivery. The band's music unsurprisingly draws on the same general stew of psychedelic sounds old and new that BJM favored; if not as immediately distinct, it's definitely enjoyable, particularly lightly tripped-out moments like Parker's "Brightly Lit New Dark Ages," with its flanged lead guitars and vocal harmonies mixed with swirling reverb, and Galland's murkily beautiful conclusion to "You're Gonna Need More Time." -AMG




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