Nice try, pint-size.
Now here’s an album you should probably check out. Dryspell’s debut disc Kitty Porn is one of those pop rock recordings that sometimes defies all the usual popisms. Through an intricate array of sharp hooks, savvy melodies, and arrangements that can often catch you off guard and leave you wondering “how’d they do that?” Dryspell has come up with a good album that rocks as much as it pops.
The San Francisco based group (with Chuck Lindo on guitars, Al Higgins on bass, John Morris on vocals and rhythm guitar, and drummer Greg Anderson) have managed to do what other pop rock bands have tried lately, only to fail. Namely, they have created a mix of finger-snapping accessible tunes with a deep layer of rock sensibility underneath the pretty surfaces. This aspect of the group’s sound can be heard right off the bat on the first track, “Tangled” in which Morris sounds not unlike Dexter Holland of the Offspring.
But it’s the second track, “Pint Size” which represents the “Dryspell sound” as it were. The verses shuffle about on tipsy yet taut rhythms while the choruses kick in with a rage of power chords and Morris’ dramatic vocals. Yeah, he can belt a good rock tune as much as he can handle any “alternative” flavorings that crop up throughout the disc. Not that every tune’s a winner here. “Take Me Out” seems downright bland next to the eclecticism of the other songs, and “Rikk James’ Kitty Porn” may veer a little too long on the strange meter. But with a song like “Lucy” (a tribute to Lucille Ball, that also manages to push aside “Sally”, “Jenny” and “Rosie”), the band kicks it into novelty overdrive which may very well pigeonhole them if they work on this cute factor and not their rock smarts. Not that it’s a bad song, but it sounds almost like it was chucked into the disc just to have that dead horse alternative moment.
Still, songs like “Girlfriend’s House” and “Waiting” shift the balance back into the band’s favor with great vocals and melodies. Basically, Kitty Porn and Dryspell have a lot of great potential. They just need to see if they can live up to that in the future by getting rid of some of their more generic moments that 20 other bands could pull off with no problem. Yet it is one of the better albums I have heard this year simply because it does dare to take its own chances when it wants to, and those moments payoff rather well. I think if these guys just relaxed a bit more and kept on forging their own sound, they’d have a winning formula. For now, Kitty Porn is half groovy and half predictable. But five out of 11 isn’t bad.
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// Notes from the Road
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