Friday, March 11, 2011

Innovative Modern Musicians: The Damnwells

"I haven't heard of the Damnwells before."

Blah, blah, blah

"Do you think you're cool talking about bands I haven't heard of?"

Yadda, yadda, yadda

"What song would I recognize by them?"

Look.  I've spoken about less than mainstream bands on this blog from time to time.  I know the response can be lukewarm, but I am not deterred.  I can only bring the info to you, then you have to go out and see if this band is your cup of tea.  In this case- THE DAMNWELLS damn well are your cup of tea.  The raspy voice of Alex Dezen is hauntingly beautiful.  The song structure is top-notch.  Even better, this band isn't even famous enough to hate their fans (or at least be too cool for them.)  In fact, they are quite gracious and caring toward the folks that enjoy their music.

I first was introduced to The Damnwells by my friend Eric Woods.  I believe he saw them in San Diego and figured I would like them.  He was right.  Soon after I listened to the "PMR+1" EP, I bought "Bastards Of Beat" at Rasputin Records in Pleasant Hill.  I LOVED that album.  This was probably sometime in 2005.  I listened to it over and over.  With songs like "Sleepsinging," "Electric Harmony," "I'll Be Around," and "Texas" there are plenty of reasons to love that album.  Every song on it is fantastic.  Here's a sample:

A few years later I was back at that very same Rasputin and realized I hadn't checked in on The Damnwells in awhile. I was beyond pumped when I realized that "Air Stereo" was available for me to purchase that day. Shockingly, every song on that album is GREAT as well. I was immediately drawn to "Accidental Man" and "Shiny Bruise" (we'll get to that one in a bit.) Here's another taste:

For whatever reason, I would listen to them from time to time, but forgot to check in again for a few years.  I suppose it's like losing touch with a good friend only to remember to call them pick right back up like you hadn't been apart.  Last month, I found my way to their website and realized not only had I missed the release of "One Last Century," AND they were releasing "No One Listens To The Band Anymore" within a few days.  (I won't be losing track of them anymore as I now follow them on Twitter- @thedamnwells and @damnwellsnews.) 

Also, to my surprise, "One Last Century" was available FOR FREE at THE DAMNWELLS WEBSITE! Are you kidding me? How cool is that? (Highly inspiring- I may have to release some stuff for free, but we'll see about the best way of doing that.)

Even better, "No One Listens To The Band Anymore" was being released through   All I had to do was donate $10 and I was able to download the album on March 1.  I've been listening constantly ever since!  It's literally pointless to name off my favorite songs from both the last two Damnwells' releases because each and every song is fantastic.  (Ok, if you press me- start with "Soundtrack," "Say," and "Dandelion" from OLC and from the new album check out "Great Unknown," the title track, and "Werewolves.")

As a musician myself, I'm always looking for inspiration.  I have many songs ready for my next record, but I've had a lazy case of writer's block this past year.  I needed something to kick-start my creativity again and The Damnwells have helped me with that.  Rejuvenated, I am so thankful for The Damnwells' music.  So inspiring.

On top of that, because of the donation, I was able to watch a lunchtime UStream.TV webcast where Alex just sat in his living room and played requests and answered questions.  It was beyond awesome.  He actually answered TWO of the questions I typed in.  Here are the general premises of my questions:

I noticed Alex was playing a lot of songs with a Capo on the 4th fret, so I asked him if that was his favorite position to play at.  He essentially said that he's always looking for the best sounding place on the guitar for the chords to work.  He claimed to be "in the goosebumps business" so he'll play things wherever they sound best.  I'm not sure I explained his answer well, but in the context of the stream, it was solid.

My second question was about the second verse of "Shiny Bruise."  I couldn't figure out how they made the effect that sounds like a musical jet landing.  Was it on guitar?  Was it a sample?  As it turns out, they use a mellotron.  Excellent answer!  It makes perfect sense.  Now I have to figure out where to get one of those!


My main points of the post are three-fold.

1) The Damnwells is a FANTASTIC band that deserves your attention.  Give them a listen and see if you like them.  More than likely- you will!

2) I've been inspired.  I've been "too happy" after my wedding to write sad songs.  Seeing a happily married singer/songwriter like Alex Dezen continue to write greatness allows me to see how it is possible for me.  I didn't just get great music to listen to with their new album, I got inspiration that I needed.

3) By giving away music for free, pledging music revenue to charity, and allowing fans to interact directly The Damnwells are being very progressive in the way they view the music industry.  I respect what they are doing and it has me cheering for them as well as fulling enjoying listening to their music.  Obviously, the music has to be good/great for me to pay attention.  However, it makes me feel that much more invested knowing that these guys are good guys who care about people and fans.  It's refreshing.

So what are you waiting for?  Go check out The Damnwells- STAT!  You won't regret it.


GMoney said...

I don't know what to say since you clearly stated at the beginning that mentioning that I've never heard of these guys is a pointless exercise.

I will announce that on the radio this morning was an ad promoting the 45th anniversary tour of THE MONKEES coming to Columbus this summer. Peter Tork, bitch. And that Stepping Stone is still badass to this day.

Tony B. said...

Just go check them out like you are obviously going to check out the Monkees.

Their TV show was silly but awesome for Nick At Night programming.

GMoney said...

Davey Jones surely was crushing tons of hippie ass in the 70's.

Tony B. said...

No doubt. Davey Jones was the Paul McCartney of the Monkees. That is comparable to being the little G$ of the Light Blue YMCA basketball team.

Sarita said...

I'm finding it hard to stay in work mode with it being Friday so I've been skimming your blog for more posts on music. :) In regards to giving out OLC for free, they teamed up with Paste Magazine and it was in efforts to get you on Paste's mailing list. I think Pledge was such a great choice and opportunity for them and I actually remember your question about Shiny Bruise during one of the Ustream concerts. :) I may be posting more comments depending on what other reviews I read. :) Thanks for providing a distraction!