Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Drams- Jubilee Dive

Should I really be reviewing albums like Jubilee Dive? Is a band like the Drams even relevant to what we are doing on this blog? What is the point in trashing a record that most WSJR readers would never consider buying in the first place? These are the questions I started to ask myself after about five minutes of listening to this album for the first time, knowing all too well that there was no way I was going to get through its 14 tracks without a struggle. I needed a way out, an excuse to not listen to these songs ever again, a chance to escape from the feeling that I had to write about them. There were two major problems that I just couldn't seem to get around, and I thought that avoiding the whole thing would probably be best. The first problem was the fact that merely listening to these emotional mid tempo country rock snore fests was a pretty painful experience in and of itself, and the second was that it seemed almost impossible to come up with anything to say about an album that isn't quite terrible enough to be funny, but boring enough to be completely forgettable. Basically, there are only a few ways in which one can say "this sucks," and I think I've tried just about all of them on this blog.

But nevertheless, The Drams are relevant to a lot of people in this tiny little world known as local music, and since this is primarily a local music blog, I decided that a fair review based on a careful listen was warranted. After all, the band seems to be fairly well known on the local circuit, and the fact that all but one of its members have previously played in formerly popular local rock bands Slobberbone and Budapest One means that their record is noteworthy enough to write about, even if doing so might not be very fun. Basically, whether I like it or not, this is something of a big release in local music, and someone probably has to say something about it.

Of course, the difficult part isn't simply telling you that this record isn't very good, because it clearly isn't. The real challenge lies in explaining exactly why it isn't good, since nothing on it is truly offensive. Ok, here goes: take the worst songs on the Clerks soundtrack (especially that Golden Smog song), mix them up with the worst Wilco songs you can think of, throw in a bit of popular Nashville country along with a dash of Train, and you're probably getting pretty close to what Jubilee Dive sounds like. Most of the album consists of overly slick, extraordinarily dry adult contemporary southern rock songs about drinks, girls, politics, angels (not kidding), and just about anything else that you probably don't want to hear these guys talk about. This is "regular guy" music to a fault, and I can't stand regular guys (or at least their music).

And yes, for all you people who are into "good ol fashioned songwritin" or whatever Everyman bullshit you like to say, the melodies are good enough, the singing is decent, and the playing is tight and competent for the most part. The main problem is simply that there seems to be nothing behind these songs, as one flows into the next before you notice it has ended, staying uniformly stiff and lifeless throughout. The first four songs sound like they should be on the soundtrack to an early 90's roadtrip movie where Drew Barrymore is wearing flannel, showing just enough of The Drams' country influences to confirm that yes, these guys are probably from Texas, but never going much deeper than the kind of post-Alternative Nation guitar pop that record executives still think "the kids" listen to. Length is also a big issue on a lot of these tracks. For example, "Holy Moses" clocks in at 6 1/2 minutes with a cheesy chorus about angles coming down from heaven and a torturous helping of unnecessary solos and predictable chord changes that render it a VERY long 6 1/2 minutes that could probably be cut in half. Elsewhere, the ballad "When You're Tired" drags on for another wandering six minutes without really going anywhere, and closing track "Make A Book" ends up being little more than a five minute reminder of the luke warm power pop that dominates the beginning of the record, failing to make a case for going back and checking out those tracks again. Ironically, "You Won't Forget," which is clearly the album's highlight, is also its second longest song. But unlike most of the other tracks, the band maintains interest here with a strong melody, relatively minimal yet effective guitar work, and a horns breakdown/changeup in the middle that sounds unbelievably refreshing within its context. Unfortunately, the Drams fail to bust out with any other surprises, leaving the listener with the feeling that the track was probably a fluke.

The bottom line is that anyone who agrees with this review probably would have never given this album a chance in the first place, and anyone that I've pissed off here has probably made it a rule to never listen to anything they read on this blog anyway. To put it another way, I'm still not exactly sure why I reviewed Jubilee Dive, and I'm also unclear as to why the Drams recorded it.

(rating is out of a possible five stars)


Blogger Silence Productions said...

I've not heard the album and have no opinion yet of what the record but I think you wasted a lot of time if you honestly believe your readers to be that indifferent to this album.

Write what you thought in a paragraph and save us the explantions and yes we already know we are all snobs B.S. Then you would have been able to review something we all might go out and possibly listen to.

If it's convenient I'll still probably give this a record a listen.

4:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Stonedranger. Thank you for validating the feelings I thought came from just being an Asshole. See, I expected to like this album. I was dead wrong.
It was the playing that did it in for me. That damned busy piano and dueling chunk-master guitars. Has he ever heard of playing "tastfully," "dynamically," "sympathetic" even? Those keys are just going going going.
I think this record is just self-indulgence and it's not coming from Brent Bestl, who I couldn't talk shit on if I wanted to, it's from those choads in Budapest One.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Drams = Boring

8:06 AM  
Blogger wakka-wakka said...

Haven't heard the record, because I'm really not that interested.

Just wanted to add my two cents to the Slobberbone v. Budapest One pitting Anon 4:58 may have started, although it's sort of like arguing about who's better, "According to Jim" or "Two and Half Men." (Two and Half Men, btw).

Elvis Costello is more interesting than Whiskeytown. So Budapest One wins. And even though their recorded stuff sounds pretty lame, Budapest One used to put on a decent show.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FUCK Budapest One. FUCK THEM.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Drams aren't trying to challenge us, they're involved in a romance with themselves as average guys.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Drams are actually a touch less boring than Sorta, but that is FUCKING boring.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that review was as boring as the record.

stonedranger - you should know better than to apoligize and qualify (OVER AND OVER) your opinions, we pretty much expect you to be an asshole to bands like this all of the time at this point.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call bullshit: The Theater Fire plays basically the same kind of music but you LOOOVVE it.
Y'all just dis Slobberbone and the Drams because they've had a bit of success, pack clubs and sell records.
Just because some noise band plays to an "exclusive" audience of 3 at a show in their own bedroom doesn't make them "obscure," that makes them "elite."

11:08 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

The Theater Fire sounds like the Drams? Really?

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We're from Texas" music

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love how the Ranger can say "it's this meets this meets this" and it's no prob, but Sam does it and he's a "hack music journalist".

I have love for both.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like the drams have a problem that i have confronted in music many times. if no one HATES what you're doing then no one is going to LOVE it at all. if everyone is walking around all luke-warm about what your doing... saying "hey, that's kinda good" or "that ain't bad" but no one is saying 'holy shit that's incredible!" or "that shit sucks, i'm going to kick your ass" then the truth is... no one is really paying attention. sounds like, if the drams weren't in familiar bands prior to this one then no one would even care, they might hear a song of theirs somewhere and simply continue whatever conversation they were having. no opinion is changed, no life is altered... no one even notices.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"one might hear a song of theirs"

12:16 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

absolutely correct.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another review from Contact Music:

"This album is far from fashionable... and sounds as far from hair gel and music video choreography as it is possible to get."

Well, I guess that's true. Hey, maybe this is the greatest album ever released! Maybe "average" is the new "exceptional."

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another review from Contact Music:

"This album is far from fashionable... and sounds as far from hair gel and music video choreogra

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Theater Fire plays basically the same kind of music"

Watch it buddy!

12:45 PM  
Blogger tania said...

i thought you wrote an entertaining review, stonedranger!

i will still continue to see
brent and the boys play
because it is a "good time"
and i am constantly learning
from other musicians about musicianship, song writing, stage setups, ohh, all sorts of things
regardless of genre.

heck,i might even buy the damn cd
but i tend to be a little lazy
unless i get accosted by merch people at shows,
then i feel guilty for not already owning a copy,
so i buy it along with a button or two
that invariably gets lost in my washing machine
or destroys yet another button up shirt, or some other delicate fabric.

my goodness, is that the time?

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah i gotta chime in and say that theater fire and the drams sound about as similar as kevin federline does to n.w.a.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I hate Wanz and his stupid...wait...oh, y'all are talking about the Drams?
I'm sorry, I belong next door.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, can we stop bitching about the Drams and get back to business? And by business I mean bitching about Wanz.
(joke, ha! wanz you're cool.) I meant Spune and Daughter. I mean, really- they ARE the devil.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the guy who wrote that article is the fucking man.
sorry i have waited a millenium to kiss someones ass around denton.



3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh i heard the guy lives in dallas

i just appreciate the honesty from such and individual


3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just remember kids this is a blog not a professional article by any stretch. So feel free to write a nice review on how these people think they are real writers. So maybe Rolling Stone can wipe their ass with it.. :)

3:44 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

rolling stone? What kind of douchebag do you have to be to still read that sack of shit?

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How gay do you have to be sitting around ready the joke of a blog.

3:52 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

um, what?

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See that made no sence what so ever. Dammit I fucked up my retort.

Ok you won stonedranger.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you can tell Im really bored at work.

I just thought it would be fun to be like the rest of the clowns and start shit for no reason.

Hum "|

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yah, i was listening to the drams on myspace, and my girlfriend, who is not a elistist prick, was like, "what is this... it sucks"

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they are playing at idlerich (however you spell it).

the drams are deffinately the VH1 version of Slobberbone.

...what respectable band plays in uptown? that's like doing an in-store at kidswap

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yah, i was listening to the drams on myspace, and my girlfriend, who is not a elistist prick, was like, "what is this... it sucks"..."

The lesson we learn here? If you play with shit, you're bound to stink.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"yah, i was listening to the drams on myspace, and my girlfriend, who is not a elistist prick, was like, "what is this... it sucks"

Weird, when I was with her she was all about the Drams. But I wouldn't expect her to be honest to the guy she's cheating on anyway.


You're a dram.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its really upsetting that stonedranger would say "I can't stand regular guys" i used to like reading this blog because it was unique in that it wasn't trying so damn hard to be indie elitist bullshit.

you're allowed to give a record a bad review but don't be so naive to think you're not regular.

5:59 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

it was a joke... but I do hate "regular guy" music. When I say that, I mean anything from Dave Mathews to Jimmy Buffet to the Drams, ya dig?

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to clarify, by "regular guy" music you're not talking about the musicians, you're talking about the audience, right? the guys who are like, "yeah, this song is about angels, that means it's fucking DEEP man! I mean, angels are just OUT THERE dude"

then again, maybe that impression was more of a "regular guy on weed".

shit, now i'm confused.


8:59 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

yeah, thats a pretty big part of it. I can say without a doubt that I hate angels.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:28 PM  
Anonymous gary p. anonymous with an f said...

I knew it!!! Stoned Ranger is an Angel Hater!!! I had you pegged from the first day, you bastard!!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's not strident zend, man.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your all ass-holes ! Cd of the year ass-hole! CD OF THE FUCKING YEAR! Brent Best is a god!

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feel bad for you numnuts! What the hell's wrong with regular guys? Sorry the Drams don't record their albums in an outhouse with a 2 track and whisper songs about bleeding organs into a tin can with a toy piano on accompaniment. Indie sack.

8:58 PM  
Blogger PearlSnapMan said...

For example, "Holy Moses" clocks in at 6 1/2 minutes with a cheesy chorus about angles coming down from heaven...

Are they of the 90 or 45 degree variety?

9:37 AM  

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