Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The dB's: "Falling Off The Sky" (2012) CD Review

The dB's are back, with their first album in twenty-five years, and the first with the original lineup since 1982's Repercussion.  They took their time recording this one (they made the decision to record a new album back in 2005) and the results are wonderful. There is nothing tentative in these recordings. This band is as tight as ever, as if they'd never stopped recording and touring. I hope we don't have to wait decades before the next release from this excellent band.  While most of these songs are joyous pop rock gems, there are also songs like the pretty "Far Away And Long Ago," which features a string section.  There are no weak tracks on this CD.

I am thoroughly enjoying this album, more and more each time I listen to it.

"That Time Is Gone"

Falling Off The Sky kicks off with "That Time Is Gone," a great, fun, energetic pop rock tune.  I particularly love the keyboard, which reminds me a bit of some late 1960s stuff - it has that kind of lively vibe. Plus, the song features good vocals.  This song puts us on a bus, driving away from an earlier life. "Every truck that passes, every cactus, every bird is freer than you now/You've got nothing holding you back/Nothing tying you down/Freer than the law allows."  "That Time Is Gone" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"Before We Were Born"

"Before We Were Born" is a love song that works as both a sweet pop tune and a hard-driving rock song.  I'm really into this band's vocals, which in this song at times are a bit reminiscent of R.E.M. Check out these lyrics: "I'll be there when you wake/To paint the blue back on the sky/And dry your eyes/And I've got a feeling that I knew you before you were born/Before we were born."  I completely love this song.  This one was written by Chris Stamey.

"The Wonder Of Love"

"The Wonder Of Love" is one of my favorites. It has such a bright catchy rhythm. I dig the drumbeat. There is a surprising section about two minutes in that breaks the rhythm up for a moment. Then the vocals come back, "Sometimes I wonder if the wonder of love is ever enough or always too much/And then I figure that it all levels out/Homeostatic and soft to the touch/Then I've got to believe in the wonder of love." This song features horns, which add to its bright feel.  That's Al Strong on trumpet, and Peter Lamb on saxophone.  "The Wonder Of Love" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"Write Back"

"Write Back" is another of my favorites.  This one was written and sung by drummer Will Rigby. I totally dig his vocals. They remind me of some odd combination of They Might Be Giants and Buzzcocks.  My favorite section is when he sings, "I guess I knew that I/Was telling you goodbye/When I didn't reply to your reply to my reply to your reply to my reply to your reply to my letter." There is some interesting work on drums, as you might expect, but also on keys. This song is totally catchy, and completely cool.  And there is a string section, which I always appreciate.  Karen Galvin and Kaitlin Wolfberg are on violin.  Josh Starmer is on cello.  (I'm a sucker for cello.)

"Send Me Something Real"

"Send Me Something Real" is a song that has already worked its way into my brain, and pops up from time to time (as if it had lived there for years). It surprises me that this is a new song, as I feel I've known it for a long time. This one is on the sweeter side, but has an element of longing, with the repeated line at the end, "Seems like an eternity since you were here with me."  "Send Me Something Real" was written by Chris Stamey.

"World To Cry"

"World To Cry" is wonderfully catchy. The vocal line feels like something John Cafferty (perhaps with help from Tom Petty) would have had a hit with in the mid-1980s. It starts, "You think you know it all, but what do you know/You think you love someone, but where did it go/You learn to trust yourself, but not for long."  I like the line, "Sometimes you choke yourself just to see how it feels."  "World To Cry" was written by Peter Holsapple.

"The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel"

I seriously love "The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel."  Right off the bat, it's catchy.  But this one has an interesting structure, with its strange section in the middle where he sings, "I can see everything/I can hear everything/But I can't do anything for you" (with a strange Felini feel for just a moment behind the vocals). When it kicks in after that section (especially the second time) it's glorious.  This is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.  It was written by Chris Stamey.

This song has a lot of guest musicians, including Kaitlin Wolfberg on violin, Karen Galvin on violin, Josh Starmer on cello, Corey Sims on trumpet, Lisa Lachot on flute, and Charles Cleaver on Wurlitzer.

"She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore"

"She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore" is another of my favorites, partly because of these lines: "She won't drive in the rain anymore/Buys things twice at the grocery store/Keeps her hatchet on the attic floor."  This song is a truly compelling portrait of a woman who won't drive in the rain anymore.  And this song has a distinct beauty.

CD Track List
  1. That Time Is Gone
  2. Before We Were Born
  3. The Wonder Of Love
  4. Write Back
  5. Far Away And Long Ago
  6. Send Me Something Real
  7. World To Cry
  8. The Adventures Of Albatross And Doggerel
  9. I Didn't Mean To Say That
  10. Collide-oOo-Scope
  11. She Won't Drive In The Rain Anymore
  12. Remember (Falling Off The Sky)

The dB's are Peter Holsapple on vocals, guitar, and keyboard; Gene Holder on electric bass; Chris Stamey on vocals and guitar; and Will Rigby on drums, percussion and vocals.  Joining them is Mitch Easter on guitar.

Falling Off The Sky is scheduled to be released June 12, 2012 on Bar/None Records.

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