Sometimes called "The best rock band you've never heard.", and they have 17,000 friends on their MySpace page. Hmmm. Maybe they will get some of the recognition they deserve...
And we're back! A little over 2 years (2004) since the first Dream Life Misery CD "Closest Line Theory", we now have their newest release (from late 2006) "Over The Wire". I have been anxiously awaiting this CD for all of my regular reasons: I expect to be completely knocked-on-my-ass impressed a couple of times (and I was), and I expect a couple of songs to be slightly weaker than I would have done them (yeah; we had that, too). But overall; I expect to hear 10 or 11 songs that make me feel like I'm still a founding member of a secret club, a club with the most incredible and "complete" music ever.
"Complete" music; a quick review (think Pink Floyd or Dire Straits): good enough (or better) lyrics carving the lip out of strongly synchronized song-structure. Band members on the same page, layering constructively without sounding over-produced; it has to sound great, yes, but it also has to sound like they could do this in your favorite bar--right down the street. We will need good songs! We need combinations of the original draft AND finished product--showing that neither was ever too far away. We need 4 or 5 songs good enough to be "the single", and album filler so excellent that you catch yourself singing lines of songs that you don't even remember the name of. We're actually going to need a new storyteller; a 30 yr. old version of David Gilmour or Mark Knopfler would be so advantageous here--but he's also going to have to look really good. This is a video/visual world now; we're going to need a true frontman to sing these real songs. And even if we could get all of these intricate details fitted together, glued flat, matted down, edged, framed, and displayed at a busy mall--there's still no guarantee that anybody will look at the picture. A cross-metaphor? Yeah, I know. Sorry.
I'm getting all personal here, and they deserve my praise as such, but let's come back down to short attention spans--like yours. We've got the band, and we've got the frontman. Doug Heffernon can yell or story-tell while playing lead or rythym guitar, sure, but he could also take a crooning close-up and make teenage girls cry--and I predict you will see that in the next year or so. I'm living proof that the music business is the most fickle and forgetful sack of crap that corporate America ever got control of; but my current question would be: why isn't DLM (or at least Doug) on the cover of Spin Magazine? What exactly are you expecting from performers of good music? Audio, video, and good verbal interviews; hello? Instead of make-up and 75% body tattoos, why can't the fucking gimmick for a band be their songwriting skills--JUST ONCE? It should NOT take longer than 10 years, and it should NOT take more effort than 3 really good albums to get noticed. On that note, let's play oddball:
My first review; at work, sober, and in a playful mood, I did a quickie review at the CDBaby site, after only 3 or 4 listens to the CD. I was still giddy over the first 2 songs, and obsessed with the way song 8 kicks in the guitars in the first 5 seconds. I wasn't looking for a single--I'm way past that now. And I felt a little blue-balled by this last song "Dying To Know", but that's only because I expect "double encore insanity" from the final song on any album. I've never been disappointed with any listen to either DLM CD, and doubt I ever will be; I was just still in the first stages of listening to a new great CD when I wrote this:
"4 out of 5 stars Very good music; excellent range, like it or love it. Reviewer: W C Davis I'm at work now--I'll write more from home this weekend. My favorite tracks are 1, 2, and 8. I expect to be impressed by these guys; the bar is already set pretty high. I don't cut them any slack for fluff or album filler; even their worst songs should still be decent--and they are! This CD--review this CD only. Bite me. It's ALL above average! The only thing missing is the 4-minute pop-alt single that would land them on the cover of Spin. I expected much more from the final song, but I'm just spoiled after "Stain" and "That Way". So I put 1, 2, and 8 on a loop, and dance around in my underwear. My girlfriend liked it too (the music--not my dancing); maybe you don't realize how big of a compliment that is--when she likes my music, that's a big deal. A little birdie told me you can dig these guys up on You Tube, and at least one of these songs is on it. Oh well. Back to work. Sigh. All cuss words were deleted; there, are you happy? Jeez."
What day is it now; 3-24-07? Saturday? Is Bush still president? How much is a gallon of gas? It's almost April; really? So; I don't know what day it is, I'm not positive what month it is, I'm not even totally sure who the president is; but you want me to review another CD? Oh sure; this will go extremely well.
'Hungover at noon; this is W. C.'s review of DLM's "Over The Wire"'; shhh:
1. Show Me The Way: Start the CD and shut up; this is a great, general DLM song. If you have no expectations, and you shouldn't, then this song asks as many questions as it answers. With a powerful Alternative chorus, and lyrics that will burrow into your brain, this song should be recognized. Hey; it's not the band's fault that you're hungover, meatball. Let's try to be more descriptive here.
2. Some Way: This is the one that you'll want to call "Make It Go Away" (you'll be humming it at work), and I would have been all over this song as a short anthem; a 7 minute song done in 4 minutes. It's got the 80's boom move, and the grungy garage groove all at the same time. You will wonder why this isn't on the radio now. I don't even know how you dream up a song this organized. But save some praise for #3.
3. I Don't Know: I've been singing this one at work, too. It starts with vocals through a filter, so you think it might be some weak Euro-trash love song, but then the guitars kick in before the 30 second mark. The big run during the chorus is involved and organized; this song has impressive quality in the stops and breaks. THIS is the song you'll play for your friends, and they'll like it, and then you say 'But this is just album filler crap here--they're not even breaking a sweat. Let me play a better one for you'...
4. Low: Here we go; there should always be one song that reminds the real fans of the early days. 10 years ago, or today, this is the type of sound I expect! After about 20 listens to the CD, I was convinced that this would be the single--if there is one. I sing this song more than any other on the CD. I hear a little "David Gunn" in this one, and these transitions are completely engaging. Let's play lost-and-found under headphones to this. These first 4 songs are as great as anybody could have hoped for; maybe better. We are once again lacking a little bit of range, but I can work with it.
The Real Thing: We've had 4 very good songs so far; it is time for one that's a bit slower, a bit more melodic; a song for the girls. And not some whiney chick song, just a good song that the girls can listen to while they look at pictures of Doug and sigh. Girls are always looking for 'the real thing', right? Let the girls dream of their little sappy romances while they listen to something this good.
6. The Enemy: The day before I got the new e-mail with the other DLM You Tube, MySpace, "God only knows" videos from the 11-06 CD release party I figured out that "The Enemy" is the perfect single here. It took about 30 listens to the whole CD; I personally thought that this song started too weakly (is "weakly" even a word, you silly drunk)--but that's because my expectations are so high. They made a complete meal out of this one. How high can you build one sandwich with condiments? Let's take a look: We've got all 4 food groups in this pile right here--with an appetizer, and a grandma-baked dessert, too. Sit in awe as you listen to this complete package do everything a song can possibly do in just 4 minutes. You will need to shut up, and play this one a few times in a row.
7. Before I'm Forgiven: This should be the weakest song on the CD; it's the one right after the single. But it's good. The first 45 seconds are the ballad intro, and even after the drum kick this tune doesn't change course. Softer songs don't impress me, but this one does not annoy me, either. I would think the teenage girls love this stuff. This might be your last bathroom break before we rev up for the end here.
8. Waiting For Something: Yes! From the first listen, I LOVE the guitar slam 6 seconds in; I am reminded of all the intricate rock I have loved from the 90's. I get up and dance to this; this will be a hairbrush microphone sing after I learn all the lyrics. And this one has a couple of breaks, and organized stops, a little guitar feedback; who wouldn't love this? WTF do you want from your new favorite under-appreciated band? Have we made the direct "arena rock" reference yet? Maybe I'm alone on this one; but imagine a 2007 band going back 20 years and doing a 'big hair' bombing anthem that 20-somethings will be blasting out of their cars in afternoon rush hour. I can totally see this.
9. Blame: This is the default sound of the band. Catchy, hooky, rocking; and it sounds really easy to do. Do you hear the guitar actually leading the song--just the way it was drawn up on paper? I can visualize this happening at band practice, and it's no big deal at all. This is easy stuff for these guys. My girlfriend stuck her face in here while this song was playing; so I asked her what she thought, and she was like 'this is fine'. Again; that's pretty high praise from her.
10. Everything: I haven't done any drooling over individual song-writing skills; I've just made a couple of chick song references--assuming that the casual listener already knows that the chick songs are the better-written complete pieces. But you cannot assume the intelligence of your listeners. The best you can do is to incorporate a little mayhem (or a decent short guitar run) into your softer works. Even the softer stuff still has a spine! This song is not only completely acceptable, but it's also deeper than your average Alternative mumbling.
11. Dying To Know: I didn't understand it at first, but maybe I do now. These last 3 songs are differing versions of complete presentations. It's a different way of showing that there are many songs here that are radio-friendly. Did I like it at first? Not really; but I wasn't looking at the big picture. I do that sometimes--get all caught up in what I think the song (or the world) should be like, and of course I wind up a little misdirected. The heavy-lifting for this album has already been done; we're just wiggling on out of town now. This is a great ending; it makes you wonder if this is all there is...?
Yawn. When do I rip them? Now? No. So this appears to be another A-grade offering from an above-average, though still very unknown band. Success is determined by the definition of the word; I hope these guys don't still have to work day jobs. I mean; would it not suck to sound THIS good, AND still have to pay for it all yourself? And nobody should ever take any advice from me, but if I were to advise, I would tell Doug and the boys here to just keep doing things like they're doing right now. This is tight, this is uniform; THIS is exactly what it is supposed to be. You are performing your tasks exceptionally well--even if your range is limited; smell some roses here. Promotion is an expensive coin-flip; you deserve to be recognized for quality--it's too bad that the world is obsessed with fluff.
Can I rip them yet? No. Don't rest on achievements passed--you definitely want to keep looking to the future. Keep writing, keep experimenting, and stay sharp--of course, but you have earned every right to say out loud "Screw all of you; we have put out 2 great records in less than 3 years." It might be time for a short vacation; a couple of weeks off. You guys have definitely earned it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last month of my life, listening to this CD at least once a day--and imagining how I would promote you. There are so many other investments of time that would not feel as worthwhile. I would like to thank DLM for reminding me that some of the best things in life are often overlooked.
Now? Can I rip them now? Sure. Hey Doogie; where's my guitar solo? Have you ever stomped on a waa-waa pedal? Ever switched guitars in between songs? If your strings, voice, and singing style are the same in every song--people get distracted. They yawn! I bobbed my head, and yawned, while listening to Low! Where's my drum intro, or even a song with busy drums? Where (the funk) is my funk? We hear the groove on every track; it's good groove--and we're all impressed. But just implying that your band has range does not PROVE that your band has range. I never heard a bass thump in those 11 songs. (Crazy idea: every band member gets to do ONE song on the next album.) I want there to be one really slow song that's so weak I have to skip it, which will make me appreciate the song before it even more. My Dad would say that this new CD 'all sounds the same', like my old Rush albums; which is extra funny right now because you're Canadian, and Geddy Lee is in a new ESPN promo--but my old man has a point. We need a bit more variety here, guys. (What? Rush is touring this Summer; 2007? Can DLM open for them?) You don't have to play a country song (puke) or do a punk thrash (score!) if you don't want to, but Jeezus H. Chrikes will you please mix it up a little bit? (Doesn't your sister sing? Would it kill you to share the mic with her, or somebody else, for a song? You know; like, harmonies, backing vocals, shared singing--these are just crazy ideas I have). Highlight? I liked (and still like) "Low" more than I realized. Why? It takes 20 seconds to start, and almost 40 seconds to kick! It also sounds more like a first draft than a polished piece, and it's almost like there's some mumbling in there. I like shit like that.
So; those are my thoughts. Thank you for letting me yell a little bit. The other option would be to go completely nuts; Psycho Heffernan. Scream about how it's your band, and you'll do it any damn way you want; everybody else can go to hell. Then...eat one of your band members. Become the cannibal Billy Corgan of the new century; "He's talented, he's crazy--let's follow him around until he snaps completely." 'I heard he's gonna eat a roadie onstage tonight--bring your video cam!' Play a gig wearing Hawaiian shirts and hockey masks--confuse the sheep completely. This is still supposed to be fun, right? If you're not going to open for Rush, will you at least do a Mountain Dew commercial? Oh right; you're Canadian. How about a Labatts commercial? Curveball question: What avenues are left to be dominated in this "American Idol" and "Faking A Band" world? How would YOU define success, and are you anywhere near it yet? Your personal sense of accomplishment must be intact; what kind of response do you need to see from strangers?
You don't have to sell it to me, Doug; I'm already a customer--been one for 11 years. How are WE going to sell it to them?
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