Review : The Dandy Warhols - This Machine
PitchforkBy most standards, the Dandy Warhols have it pretty good. Unlike so many bands swept up in the 1990s major-label alt-rock signing blitz, they survived a decade-long stint on Capitol with their sanity intact. Though they haven't scraped the top 40 charts in any country for almost 10 years, they can still tour respectably sized 1,000-capacity clubs around the world. And, having built their own studio in their hometown of Portland, they can produce albums and art projects at their own leisurely pace.
However, as the Dandys' case illustrates, there's a fine line between self-sufficiency and purgatory-- at this point, they're no longer a threat to the mainstream, nor an influential force in any indie micro-scene of note. At their turn-of-the-millennium peak, the Dandy Warhols represented a cheekily decadent antidote to the sincerity and self-importance of cardigan-clad indie rock, but as those orthodoxies have waned, so too has the Dandys' power of provocation. Their nebulous standing is best measured by the fact there's now a whole TV show devoted to skewering Portland hipsterdom that hasn't even deigned to make them a target....full text
SputnikmusicOn The Dandy Warhols' 8th studio album, This Machine, there is everything for everyone. The band made sure each listener would find some tracks that suits one of the styles they have approached in their 18 year career. However, as a whole the album fails to truly please all the fans, since trying to cover all the ground usually leads to inconsistency . Their previous albums were all love it or hate it, but mostly following the same musical path throughout it. This is what makes This Machine one of their most inconsistent albums, even if this finds itself on the love it side more. Over the course of 43 minutes the listener will listen to something similar to what they've put out before, but will not be able to point out one thing that ties this album together.
This Machine also marks the end of Courtney Taylor-Taylor's supreme reign over the songwriting duties, with drummer Brent DeBoer and even keyboardist Zia McCabe backing him up on a few songs. Even if all the members of the band have different side projects, whether is Taylor's krautrock outfit One Model Nation, Zia's country tinged Brush Prairie, Pete Holmstrom's alternative Pete International Airport (which is really cool) and the Brent's folky solo album The Farmer, 95% of The Dandy Warhols' tracks were written by Taylor-Taylor, sometimes with Pete's help. While each member turns in material, Taylor's compositions still remain The Dandy Warhols' defining tracks.
This Machine starts strong with the bass heavy, sing-along opener "Sad Vacation". The down-to-earth groovy bass line is a departure from the usual mostly guitar led tracks and it sounds refreshing for The Dandys. Pete's guitar work shines on this particular track, his sound having a broken feel created by a lot of reverse reverb and delay. Slowly growing, towards the end he takes off bowing the strings (as seen in the track's video) and looping his leads having a cool twisting sound. Second track, "The Autumn Carnival" is a great collaboration between the Warhols and former Bauhaus bass player David J. Haskins, that blends a really nice, more nostalgic melody with an upbeat rhythm. The buzzing guitar leads and the lovely chorus where, again, everyone joins in make this track awesome in its simplicity. This track in particular and the sparse, mandolin-led "Well They're Gone" give a more settled, mature feel of the band.
From here on, the album struggles to find its feet, leaning towards krautrock with "Enjoy Yourself", which is an interesting track, a lot more mechanical than what is found on the 2003 effort, Welcome To The Monkey House. Taylor-Taylor even adopts a fake German accent and a very impersonal tone, turning everything into a fun listen. "Alternative Power To The People" is a less interesting counterpart, having a punkier rhythm, getting very close to Green Day's synth heavy side project The Network. The vocals are processed and sound glitchy, making them unintelligible....full text
AvclubNo one does a better job of making The Dandy Warhols unlikable than The Dandy Warhols. Over the course of 17 years and eight studio albums, the Portland-based group has reigned over its own too-cool-for-school universe where Velvet-worship never gets old and a feud with the similarly solipsistic Brian Jonestown Massacre—documented in the 2004 documentary Dig!—seems compelling. Granted, greatness occasionally rises to the surface: 2000’s Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia was good fun, and 2003’s Welcome To The Monkey House succeeded thanks to the production work of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes. Sadly, none of that reluctant charm is on display in This Machine, an undistinguished slog of an album that counts an atrocious cover of “16 Tons” as one of its many grating moments.
Past Warhol albums have typically channeled a specific retro genre—’80s synth for Monkey House, straight-up psychedelia for 2005’s Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars—but other than a stripped-down aesthetic, Machine is largely unfocused. Opener “Sad Vacation” is all fuzzed-out bass and zero hooks, while “I Am Free” plays like a tossed-off They Might Be Giants B-side. “Enjoy Yourself ”apes the band’s biggest hit, “Bohemian Like You,” but tries to have it both ways by affecting a winking, “We’re living in the past and don’t give a shit” posture. ...full text
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