The Damnwells (2006) Photo by Heather Conley
Those who have read this blog for a while might have noticed subtle hints of my slight obsession with the band, “The Damnwells“. And when lead singer Alex Dezen dropped a new song on their myspace page, it became clear to me that yet another post was needed. But before we get to the new tune (yes, it’s down at the bottom, along with some others), some background.
It’s hard to describe how much the music of The Damnwells excites me. It’s much like the first time I heard Dispatch, or Ryan Adams, or Ben Harper… and that’s no small compliment from me. There’s a strong alt.country vibe to their stuff (not surprising, considering drummer Steven Terry was a member of the oh-so-missed Whiskeytown), but it also hearkens back – for me, at least – to the times of the Gin Blossoms.
And there’s just something about Alex Dezen’s voice and lyrics; it’s like he knows where you’re coming from, and meets up with you on the journey.
The Damnwells (2006) Photo by Heather Conley
I’ve previously pointed you towards the “Golden Days” trailer, but I’m including it here again. It’s a documentary that chronicles the band’s rise to the brink of stardom, and then how it was all taken away from them… after all, The Damnwells have played with The Fray many times, but while The Fray have been catapaulted into the public eye, The Damnwells still remain largely unknown (in terms of mainstream acceptance, anyway). As the film release says:
“In 2001, a photo assistant named Alex Dezen asked a couple friends to record a few songs with him. Shortly thereafter they would form the Brooklyn based rock band THE DAMNWELLS. Two years later they had toured the country, opened for rock legends, and had a song featured in a major motion picture. By 2004, they had signed a major record deal with EPIC Records (Sony/BMG).
In March of 2005, THE DAMNWELLS went into the studio to record their first professional album. For six months, THE DAMNWELLS immersed themselves in preproduction, recording, and mixing. But as months passed, their release date was moved further and further away. In January of 2006, lead singer Alex Dezen received a call they never expected. The band was being released from their contract and the fate of the album was unknown. For the moment, it would sit on a shelf at EPIC Records and collect dust.”
Watch the trailer, and tell me it doesn’t excite you.
Word from Chris (Suchorsky, the film’s director), is that the DVD should be made available in the US by Spring. And I’m freaking out. Up until now, I’ve only seen segments of the film, but not the whole thing.
More reason to freak out, is that Alex has written on the band’s blog that they should back in studio to record a follow up to the 2006 release, “Air Stereo“, in February. As he’s said:
“Really, when you consider all the pressure and nonsense—both existential and metaphoric—we always had to deal with every time we went into the studio, this will be the first Damnwells record we will ever be able to just make. ‘No pressure,’ Paul, our A&R guy at Rounder says. ‘Make the record you want to make.’ What a crazy idea! Not like we were ever making anyone else’s records, but there was always compromise.
Where art and commerce meet, there has to be. Your mixed-medium, six foot canvas doesn’t fit in the six by three inch display case at Wal-Mart, and no amount of dieting or exercise is ever gonna fit your square peg in that round hole. Compromise is a part of life—at least the kind that includes a roof over your head and food on the table. So now that we’re supposed to make this record, the one we want to make, without the pressure and nonsense, I think I may be feeling a little Stockholm syndrome coming on. How the hell am I supposed to do that?
Guess we’ll find out.”
The guy just has this amazing way with words, and if there was one person I could sit down and have a beer with, Alex Dezen would definitely be one of my frontrunners.
Anyway, on to the tunes below.
Alex Dezen before forming The Damnwells (2000) Photo by Heather Conley
The first track is the new release on their myspace page, entitled “Down With The Ship“.
Dezen has this talent of crafting these incredibly powerful songs, accompanied simply by his acoustic guitar and pure heart (as anyone who has heard his “Live Performance at the Hotel Cafe 10/14/07” can attest to. It’s floating around the net, so take a look for it. If you’re really struggling, drop me a line, as I have the whole show in a zip file).
This song is no different. The guy’s voice absolutely wrecks me.
Listen: The Damnwells – Down With The Ship
The Damnwells on tour (2006) Photo by Heather Conley
I’ve included some of their other singles below, simply because you should be listening to this. The first is a cracker of a tune (and the first of theirs I heard actually), from their 2003 release, “Bastards of the Beat“, called “Kiss Catastrophe“. It’s undeniably catchy. Try not to get into it. I dare ya.
Listen: The Damnwells – Kiss Catastrophe
The next track is their tune, “I Am A Leaver“. This is off their last album, “Air Stereo”, and is probably the song that has garnered The Damnwells the most mainstream attention. Again… if you don’t find yourself singing along with the chorus, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Listen: The Damnwells – I am a Leaver
The final track is the theme song for the “Golden Days” trailer, Golden Days. It’s a comforting tune, with wonderful backing vocals and lyrics like: “I can’t hear much but the melody coming from you / Baby please don’t rush, keep the tempo slow and blue, let me hear the words you say / Let’s go and get tangled in chains of golden days.”
Listen: The Damnwells – Golden Days
One of my “things to do before I die”? See The Damnwells, live. And it’ll happen.
It’ll happen damn it.
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