The Dandy Warhols – Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

Remember that song “Not If You Were The Last Junky On Earth?” Yeah, I didn’t think so. But I do. I remember the first time I saw the video on MTV when I was sleeping over my Grandma’s house; it was a “Buzz Bin” video. (Does MTV still have those?) The video stuck out like a sore thumb; for lack of a better expression. The bright feel was much different from anything the channel was playing at that time. I only saw that video about five more times, of that I believe three of those were at my Grandma’s (coincidence?) With the release of the documentary Dig!, the Dandy Warhols re-appeared on my TV screen. After watching this, I got my grubby little hands on Come DownThirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia and Welcome To The Monkey House. They were all very strong records; making me pretty bummed that I did not start listening to them earlier. But then again, this was in 1997 and I thought that the Offspring were musical messiahs. Fast forward to about a few weeks ago when I received Odditorium or Warlords of Mars in the mail, I was more then excited. And Odditorium did not disappoint in the least.

After a fun spoken-word intro from A&E host Bill Kurtis, the nearly 10 minute opening song “Love Is The New Feel Awful” starts off the record in quite an impressive fashion. The song goes back to earlier Dandy’s work; a more shoegazer feel to it. Realistically, the song is actually about 4 minutes or so, with the rest being a collage of a bunch of different instruments. The next track “Easy” reminds me a lot of the Wilco song “Spiders.” Both of these tracks are very long, and both songs fit into a groove that lasts the duration of the song without really deviating from it. And both of these songs are quite good. After the two lengthy shoegazer-esque tracks, the Dandy’s bring out the acoustic guitars for the corporate-record label bashing “All The Money or Simple Life Honey” and the, well country sounding, “The New Country.” Both songs are much more accessible than the opening tracks, especially “All The Money.” However, I can not see either of these getting any sort of radio play.

After the solid, somewhat combination of the drone and acoustic style of the opening songs, “Holding Me Up,” comes the extremely bizarre minute intermission track “Did You Make A Song With Otis?” Basically, it’s a short sing-a-long about beer, and guitars with a few dogs barking over it. It’s fun at first, then a little tiresome every time after that. After the one-minute bizarre-fest of “Did You Make A Song With Otis?” comes the real highlight of the record. The following three songs are among the best the Dandy’s have ever recorded. “Everyone Is Totally Insane” is an incredible song. The song is very reminiscent of Welcome To The Monkey House, a synthesizer-introspective song with some of the best lyrics Courtney Taylor has ever written. The Odditorium’s single “Smoke It” follows next. “Smoke It” is extremely fun; probably the closest “radio-friendly” song on the record. However, once again, I don’t really see this song taking off. “Down Like Disco” follows next with more of a straight ahead rock feel to it. Arguably has the catchiest chorus next to “Smoke It.” Concluding the record are the spacey “There Is Only This Time” and the 11-minute “A Loan Tonight.” “There Is Only This Time” is the weakest song on the record. The harmonies and instrumentation are good, but it lacks that certain feel of the other songs on Odditorium. “A Loan Tonight” features Courtney Taylor’s most interesting vocals. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Taylordefinitely sings the throbbing song well, it’s just not the strongest performance he has done. But the song is a very interesting listen in its own right.

Except for the outside chance that “Smoke It” goes into rotation somewhere, I doubt that this record will be a commercial success; which is really a shame because with Odditorium the Dandy’s have made the strongest record of their career. Easily one of the best records released this year.

(Capitol Records)

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