[3 February 2014]
Calling the latest release from the Dexateens an EP is a bit of a misnomer: the thing’s eight-songs long, and most of the songs are in the three-minute range. It’s more like a short album than anything else. Calling it “new” might be a bit of misnomer as well: it was recorded in 2009 and sat on the shelf until now, probably owing to the fact that bass player Matt Patton has become a full-time member of Drive By Truckers and singer Lee Bains III has a new band called the Glory Fires. So these guys are a little more than busy. However, the Sunsphere EP more than makes a case for a more-than-decent band having a collection of odds and sods that fit fairly well together like a jigsaw puzzle. Most of these songs are down and dirty stabs at classic Southern rock, which is apt as the band is Alabama based. Even the title of the EP references Southern lore: the Sunsphere is an observation tower that was built for the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Clearly, these guys have a love for the deep South.
The Sunsphere EP is interesting in that it feels like it was meant to be an artistic statement all of its own: the slow-burning opening title track careens into the rollicking “Come On Strong”. Things slow and settle down for the affecting ballad “Calico”. The chugging “Constantine” is set to stun, feeling like a less boozy version of Pavement’s “Unseen Power of the Picket Fence”. “Vengeance” is interesting for all of its shifting nature: it goes from a two-chorus rock fest to a chorus that features tuneful finger pickin’. Then there’s the liquid-y banjo led number “Broken Objects” that veers the band closer to country. In the end, the Sunsphere EP is an affecting taster for the band’s slated 2014 full-length release, Teenage Hallelujah. It’ll be interesting to see how the band has evolved in the past five years since recording this EP, but what we have so far is a platter of pretty good deep-fried rock that feels like the anthems of many a trucker cruising the roads of the Confederacy. Good stuff is to be had here. Good stuff, indeed.