Reviews: Dex Romweber Duo and post-Deal Pixies return
Dex Romweber’s Duo – Images 13
If you do not include the solo records and the influential work he did with the Flat Duo Jets, Images 13 is the third studio album for the Dex Romweber Duo. They had one live release entitled Live At Third Man, as Romweber is a large source of inspiration for Third Man founder, and modern rock ‘n’roll icon, Jack White.
The music seems to flow out of Romweber naturally and freely. His songwriting feels effortless. His more recent material isn’t quite as ‘balls out’ psychobilly, as was the case with the Flat Duo Jets. With that said, however, there is still a heavy presence of rockabilly that is blatant and expertly executed.
From the start, Images 13 kicks off with a track called “Roll On” that is armed a cocky strut and a catchy chorus. Chorus hooks are plentiful and emerge all throughout Images 13: “So Sad About Us” and “We’ll Be Together Again”.
Also present in Romweber’s genuinely nostalgic sound, and displayed in cuts like “Baby, I Know What It’s Like To Be Alone,” and the instrumental track, “Blue Surf,” is the influence of early California surf, late ’60s/early70s rock ‘n’ roll, with a little blues thrown in for good measure. Sometimes little hints of danger peek through the music, as illustrated in the track “Long Battle Coming” and “Beyond The Moonlight”. The song “One Sided Love Affair” has all of the makings of any classic American song – ala Cash, Williams, Jennings, Haggard, Nelson, or any of his predecessors. Images 13 has a nice, authentically vintage feel about it, yet it doesn’t sound contrived, like your typical passe collection of material trying to be that kind of cool. Images 13 does ‘cool’ all on its own.
Romweber’s vocal gate is quite commanding on this record, and is a large part of the album’s appeal. It’s almost as if he’s reaching into the music that he’s created and pulled the appropriate voice out of any of the given songs. His delivery is as strong as the songs he’s singing. It would have to be in order for Romweber to keep up with himself.
Images 13 is wrought with musical variety, quality songwriting, and sincere sentimentality. Dex Romweber has most definitely brought his proverbial A-game with the writing and recording of Images 13. The songs are memorable for all of the right reasons, which makes listening to Images 13 several times over in a day a rather pleasing experience. One curious thing about Romweber’s music to see would be a poll about his which pieces of his music should be included in a Quentin Tarentino film.
Over the past several months, the Pixies have released two short EPs and toured tirelessly. With the well-publicized departure of popular founding member, Kim Deal, it seemed that fans, even the loyal, started questioning the Pixies from different angles. It had been said of the new music that “it’s not the Pixies,” and comments of the sort. With all of that said, Indie Cindy, is the Pixies’ first full-length album since Trompe le Monde in 1991.
As it is true with almost any artist/band as beloved, influential and legendary as the Pixies are, silly debates are often sparked, by fans and critics alike, when they release a new piece after so much time has passed. Their integrity and validity are regularly called into question. Indie Cindy is likely no exception. Thankfully, but not surprising, the Pixies twenty three year return is quite triumphant.
This new album shouldn’t be looked at so much as a long-awaited follow-up to Trompe le Monde as it should be the next installment in the Pixies’ colorful and sonically sound anthology. The band sounds great together, and as tight as they have ever been. The overall sound of the album is somewhat bigger and fuller than their previous releases. This is obviously due to the advancements in recording over time, but the Pixies have utilized it well.
Black Francis’s songwriting has always been a primary key to the Pixies’ sound, and on Indie Cindy it appears he’s at the top of his game. His vocal deliveries are on point and the famous scream we all love is still present; see “Blue Eyed Hexe” for more on that. David Lovering’s simple but rock-solid style has not waivered an inch. The guitar style provided by Joey Santiago is a hallmark of the classic Pixies sound. On Indie Cindy, that unique trademark style is clearly evident, and done with excellence. His guitar playing helps elevate the album. As a band that always pushed slightly unorthodox musical approaches, especially those performed by Santiago, there’s plenty of further expansion present in the songs, at large.
With the experimenting the Pixies have toyed with, they’ve arrived at some interesting conclusions. For instance, the previously mentioned track, “Blue Eyed Hexe,” could be a complete rock ‘n’ roll cut, and “Magdalena” is driven by some really heavy guitar sound. Even the album’s opening track, “What Goes Boom,” comes out of the gate with strength, despite its inherently catchy hooks. The same sorts of hooks that stick like crazy glue in the mind are tracks like “Andro Queen,” “Another Toe In The Ocean” and “Jamie Bravo”. For the skeptics, the cherished Pixies’ sound probably comes through the most in songs like “Greens And Blues,” “Bagboy,” “Silver Snail” and “Ring The Bell”.
Indy Cindy is the creative culmination of an extra-ordinarily creative and talented unit of musicians. The Pixies have inspired a whole generation of musicians, and it is beautifully apparent that they still have that ‘thing’ that was present on all of those albums all those years ago. They’ve written and arranged Indie Cindy impeccably well, and preserved the essence of what makes them the band they’ve always been. This album is, indeed, an appropriate next step in their relatively small, but essential, catalog. If Indie Cindy would’ve been released back in the early ’90s after Tromp le Monde, the course of the Pixies’ career might’ve actually taken a different turn altogether.