Music television used to be relevant. Surprisingly I discovered the Dandy Warhols on Much Music back in 2000. I remember it as being one of the last times I watched Much Music and shortly before the station stopped playing music videos and started playing TV shows loosely, and I’m being generous , related to music. I saw the music video for ‘Godless’ the lead-off track of their 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia album. If you’re a regular reader you might remember that that album was one of my Top albums of the 2000’s. After watching the video, I was off to work at HMV and decided to buy that CD after my shift that evening. Listening to 13 Tales was a fantastic experience and the Warhols quickly became the band I would recommend to others to try out. As the story goes, the Warhols became somewhat popular after ‘Bohemian Like You’ got major airplay in the UK on a Vodafone ad and was played at random club nights around town. They never matched the success of that song and their next few efforts, while still solid albums, were not looked kindly upon by some influential music critics. I believe I’m not the only Warhols fan who has blamed Pitchfork for never even giving them a chance. I guess it goes to show how far one music site can influence the state of “indie” or “alternative” music. The Dandy Warhols have had quite a career, 3 great albums from 1995 – 2000 and 3 good – great or questionable records from 2002 – present. They left Capitol records in 2007 and started up their own label and now can release whatever the hell they want, some good, some bad, but at least no longer restrained by a label that altered quite a few of their plans over the years.
Guess what? To capitolize on those label years, the label has decided to try to cash in one more time with a Dandies retrospective. It’s called The Capitol Years 1995 – 2007 and contains a bunch of singles and one new track, ‘This is The Tide’. I’m not a big fan of the new track as it sounds like a random studio jam that they threw away during one of the sessions for Come Down and gave to Capitol for this release. The other songs though are an excellent mix of some classic Dandies moments and though no obscure gems are included the tracklist should give listeners a decent overview of their career. There really is some addictive music in there and the first few tracks show that Come Down, their second album, really created their signature sound. ‘Boys Better’, ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie on Earth’ are all similar, but each has their own catch. On the full album the songs were spread out with substantially different tracks, but lumped together one after another it kind of looks like they were one trick ponies. Sadly, I would say that the similar nature of the Warhols singles limited their opportunity to appeal to a wider audience, and by the time they picked some different style songs for singles a lot of the original fan base had disappeared.
Welcome to the Monkey House introduced a new sound with more reliance on synthesizers and Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s falsetto vocals. Oddly enough Monkey House was originally mixed differently with a more dub, laid-back feel. This alternate mix was rejected by Capitol though the Dandies released it in 2009 as The Dandy Warhols Are Sound. A couple of the tracks on the Capitol Years are the alternate mixes; if Capitol didn’t like these mixes the first time, why would they want them on this album? ‘You Were the Last High’ is one of the Monkey House tracks included and is a pure pop melody that should have received much more fanfare than it did when it was released as a single. ‘Plan A’ is included as well, I don’t think it was a single, but it was my favourite track from Monkey House so I’m glad it is finally getting some appreciation.
Odditorium or Warlords From Mars, one of the worst titled albums ever (Just pick a damn title!) has 3 songs on the compilation and sadly the singles here were nowhere near as good as the rest of the album. Considered their worst release by many Odditorium is an album of excess and odd ideas that hit the mark about 75% of the time. When it is good it’s really good, but when it’s bad it really shows. Most of this was due to this being the last album of their Capitol contract so they just threw it together, submitted it and said bye, thus ending the Capitol years and creating this retrospective.
I’m going to post a few videos below to introduce the Dandies to you if you haven’t heard them before or only know ‘Bohemian Like You’. If you like what you hear, check out 13 Tales, Come Down or The Capitol Years.
You can buy the new album here.