The Damnwells: One Last Century


Perhaps the smartest band in indie rock, The Damnwells are back with their newest release One Last Century.  Most indie bands are a little too smart for their own size 0 jeans, but in this case it is not an exaggeration or putdown; lead singer/songwriter/only official band member Alex Dezen is a Masters of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop which has produced 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, not too shabby.  Dezen has stated recently that the band in its original form will probably not play together again and will just remain a rotating cast of characters behind him and his strong lyrics and soothing melodies. 

Another twist comes in the release of this album for free…well let me let Dezen explain it:

I suppose the hardest thing to explain to people is why I’m giving this record away. “You’re just going to give it away?” seems antithetical to the human brain. “Is this just a bunch of b-sides or something? Some ‘give away’ material you don’t mind releasing into the ether?” No. Quite the contrary. I have never worked so hard or put so much of myself into a collection of recorded songs. It is for just this reason that I want to give it away. To me it makes perfect sense. I just want people to hear this music, and I don’t want them to have to enter into some kind of contractual agreement with a third party to do so. Download the record, copy it and give it to your friends, lovers, and enemies. Whatever. It’s so hard these days just to get the actual music into people’s houses and cars, let alone their ears. Besides, I know everyone’s broke, maybe I can supply the soundtrack. So, I just want to give this music away because I want people to hear it. I should have done this years ago. I’m starting over.

Alex Dezen

What at first may appear as a marketing trick or baldly crazy soon becomes apparent after a few moments of the cutting opener “Soundtrack”, which asks “Can you Shut-Up/Long Enough/To Fall in Love?”  There is a sense of honesty, Dezen’s voice is earnest, never harsh, but not sugar coated either.  Working best in the realm of relationships, both successful “Come to Me” to the problematic “Soundtrack” an “Like It Is”, Dezen weaves stories and emotions together to convey a sense of day to day dealings that is easy to relate to.  At times the lyrics do border on the sappy, as in the up tempo “Bastard of Midnight” he tosses out complex verses but then drops in a falsetto tinged Oooh-Aaah chorus ending with simply; “I Miss You”, a let down.  

The music is rooted in Americana/Alt-Country flowing in the same vein of Wilco Whiskeytown or Magnolia Electric Company.  Piano’s, violins, acoustic an electric guitars slow shuffle around all supporting, never becoming intrusive, acting as a backdrop to the lyrical play progressing in front of them.  The listener keeps getting sucked into the phrasing and words like in the excellent “Closer Than We Are” which contains so many great lines, one being: “Some of these days are longer than/the lonely distance that’s between them”.

If there is a downside to this fantastic wordplay it is that each of the songs act as mini movie soundtracks and perhaps some musical shake up in the backing would keep the listeners on edge as opposed to sinking in into a comfy sofa an relaxing, but this is a petty squabble with writing this on point.  Even when Dezen gets political on the closing “WWXII” he doesn’t become overbearing instead he paints pictures of war torn families and politicians, he takes the emotional road rather than playing the finger pointing game. 

Overall One Last Century is an excellent effort and as Dezen grows and continues to express himself lyrically hopefully the music behind him will grow and challenge the listeners as well.  Download today and enjoy. 

Related Content

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide