Alt-Country and Brooklyn, NY? It has never made much sense until now. Thanks to the Damnwells and their 2003 release “Bastards of the Beat,” the Manhattan counterpart is no longer only a haven for hipsters and the like. Although the band would find itself in good company among bands like Wilco, Whiskeytown (who drummer Steven Terry himself had a short but sweet run with) and the Replacements, it can’t be said that Brooklyn and it’s scene hasn’t left it’s mark on the band. The coexistence of the age-old roots rock of the south and the ever so popular indie rock that seems to be particularly alive in the Northeast these says has met its match. “Bastards of the Beat” is living proof that genre blending isn’t always a bust. The technical guitar playing of lead guitarist Dave Chernis and the smoky yet subtly smooth vocal stylings of songwriter Alex Dezen lift the Damnwells to levels far beyond anything most bands are capable of creating on their debut album. Not only does “Bastards of the Beat” reveal the musical chops of the band and it’s success with experimentation on tracks like “Star/Fool” and “Sleepsinging,” but also shows the band’s ability to bring the music back down to earth on less-produced, srtipped down songs such “ I Will Keep The Bad Things From You,” and the album’s standout track “Texas.” Dezen’s simple, albeit incredibly involved lyrics, emote a passion so strong and sincere that it is a wonder how more haven’t caught on. As long as the Damnwells continue to offer up genuine and innovative rock and roll music, they will continue to have my complete devotion.
The Damnwells – Sleepsinging (the band’s very good first single)
The Damnwells – Newborn History
The Damnwells – Star/Fool
The Damnwells – I Will Keep The Bad Things From You (bringin’ it back down to earth)
The Damnwells – Texas (my absolute favorite song)
*I have previously delegated U2 as the best band of all time. Quite true. Since U2 is in a complete league of their own, I’ll state plainly and with no concerns that the Damnwells are my answer to that question dreaded by all music enthusiasts, “So who is your favorite band?”