“We've been told that it’s our gothiest. I thought it was our grungiest. So I'm really hoping it’s a hit with goths who are, um, really outdoorsy?”
Though meant in jest, the above statement by Dandy Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor goes a long way toward explaining the appeal of his band’s latest album This Machine. Having long since abandoned their role as props in the corporate side of rock ‘n’ roll, the Dandys are now free to craft any music they wish. And the results, while not always consistent, are frequently the subject of appointment-listening by fans of a variety of genres.
Recorded during 2011 at the band’s studio and entertainment complex in Portland, Ore. the Odditorium, the album is also proclaimed as a return to a more “guitar-centric” sound than the group’s last three records, which featured a more electronic-influenced style. For example, opening cut “Sad Vacation” begins with a bouncing bass line that never lets up as Taylor-Taylor croons over scattered feedback squalls and a persistent beat.
Watch the video for the song “Sad Vacation” from The Dandy Warhols new album here:
Elsewhere, the much-hyped cut “The Autumn Carnival” includes songwriting contributions from David J formerly of the bands Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. Describing an ethereal journey through what sounds like a funhouse from another dimension, the track is a gem whose mystery only deepens when you read the band member bios included on the Dandy Warhols website.
Penned by science-fiction author Richard K. Morgan, each short tale outlines the life and strange disappearance of characters who were “taken by the Autumn Carnival” at various points over the last two centuries. Veering from pulp to mystery and even to country-western, these vignettes beg to be expanded into larger stories. However, in the meantime there’s always the music.
When viewed through the prism of the band’s full-fledged media concept, tracks like “I Am Free” read more like triumphant cries that wouldn’t be out of place playing over the end credits of a This Machine film. And where else can you hear a cover of the classic country track “16 Tons” that sounds both completely reverent and totally tongue-in-cheek?
The cliché has often been cited that we need more bands that think “outside the box.” However, there is no doubt that the Dandy Warhols left their respective cube by the wayside a long time ago, and on This Machine they continue moving forward regardless of musical trends or artistic fads. The only question you should ask yourself is how much popcorn to make beforehand, then sit down, start munching and just enjoy the ride.