Get Into “Concept Album” by Dwarves  


The Dwarves’ long and often raucous history as one of America’s greatest punk bands really only tells half of the story. Blag Dahlia has led the band through an assortment of incarnations. Without question, there are assorted scandals along the way that have further defined the band as one of the most idiosyncratic units to ever play this brand of music, but there are hidden nuances in the band’s music that they reveal in full on their latest effort Concept Album. The Dwarves are far from a one trick pony. Longtime bassist and multi-instrumentalist for bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and stoner rock legends Kyuss Nick Oliveri and Foo Fighters drummer Josh Freese joins Dahlia to deliver what may be The Dwarves’ best effort in many moons.

After the wild and wooly opening “Blast On”, a mock countdown for the remaining 19(!) tracks, The Dwarves barrel headlong into the album’s first full song “Feeling Great”. There’s always a ribald sense of humor permeating the band’s songs and this particular tune turns around Dahlia listing all of his current ills before insisting to listeners that he’s feeling great. It’s kind of an old-school rock tune filtered through Dahlia’s distinctive sensibility and the band plays it in a straightforward style. I believe I hear a smattering of organ slipped into the arrangement. The bridge is especially strong and comes at the right time.

The unrelenting dynamics of “Voodoo” are one of the highlights for me, as well. The straight-ahead charge of the band’s musical attack varies with more expansive sections that make this one of the album’s stronger tracks. It’s an excellent contrast with the opener. The kiss-off love song rage of “Ages Ago” is another winner. Dahlia, as usual, doesn’t mince any words brushing off his one-time love and his disgust is palpable. There’s nothing extraneous in the musical performance. Oliveri and Freese make a powerful team supporting Blag.

I hear the considerable songwriting chops powering this song cycle reach another zenith with “Nobody and Me”. One of the things that I love about these songs is how compact they are and yet how Blag, Freese, and Oliveri consistently manage to work subtle nuances into the tunes that give them an extra pop. The ferocious “Kill or Be Killed” is one of the most muscular workouts I hear from the album and a further illustration of the album’s surprising, or maybe not so much so, diversity. They can move from the traditional rock songwriting of the previously mentioned tune into the blood and thunder of this track without skipping a beat.

The vocal strengths of “Roxette” are another high point. People should take note of how ably The Dwarves deliver one consistent vocal performance after another incorporating backing vocals, and occasional harmonies, and yet it compromises none of the music’s power. It enhances it instead. There’s not a single bum track on this album, but these are the highlights for me. It’s an energized affair that shows Blag Dahlia is working at the peak of his demented powers. 

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