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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt


Impressive homage to rock music and its varied subgenres

Speaking in support of The Dandy Warhols’s 12th album, frontman, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, said: “There aren’t a lot of heavy guitar records currently coming out that we like, so that was the impetus for ROCKMAKER.

ROCKMAKER is the manifestation of our desire to hear a record of heavy raw punk and metal guitar riffs handled in a way that we felt was cooler or sexier but has its own alley.”

For a band lauded as much as they are lambasted, with breakout hit ‘Bohemian Like You’ dividing opinion as either excellent or irritating, adopting such a deliberate focus on a rock album could result in an album coming across like a parody rather than an authentic expression of who The Dandy Warhols are in 2024. Adding heavyweight cameos by Pixies’s Black Francis, Guns ‘n’ Roses’s Slash and Blondie’s Debbie Harry and the risk of the project falling flat increases further.

Fortunately, however, the Portland quartet avoid the pitfalls of such an approach and have created an 11-track celebration of the varied nature of rock which, for the most part, excels. Taylor-Taylor mimics Iggy Pop with his sung/spoken verse lyrics, Zia McCabe’s bass reverberates menacingly in your eardrums, Peter Holmström’s guitar work meets the ambition of the record and Brent DeBoer’s drumming provides the metronomic foundation for the other instruments to flourish. The keyboard-playing by McCabe and Holmström often adds gothic theatricality to the tracks.

For an album focused on one genre, what’s notable is the variety showcased on ROCKMAKER, with rock’s subgenres given room to breathe and remind you of its broad interpretations.

Ready to rock: The Dandy Warhols

Slash crams in three mini-guitar solos into ‘I’d Like to Help You with Your Problem’ which grooves like a Velvet Revolver song and contains traces of David Bowie in Taylor-Taylor’s vocals. ‘Love Thyself’ is a punk/slacker rock track with Taylor-Taylor’s vocals morphing into early Faith No More frontman, Chuck Mosley’s, and a fun, catchy track about prioritising yourself the output. Industrial-style guitars announce ‘Real People’, which is an urgent-sounding track about being unable to escape yourself.

Opener, ‘The Doomsday Bells’ features a bassline which will make your skin vibrate with a refrain of ‘ring-dong, ring-a-ding-dong’ ensuring the track stays in your head and goth keyboard callbacks. ‘Danzig with Myself’ is a showcase for Taylor-Taylor and Francis to share vocal duties, with a heavy grunge sound achieved. ‘Teutonic Wine’ idolises debauchery over a stomp-inducing guitar and drum rhythm, ‘The Summer of Hate’ is a blues-rock tune showcasing Holmström’s command of his instrument, ‘The Cross’ veers into metal with its Rammstein-esque riffs and ‘Root of All Evil’ is a vehicle for heavy rock guitar and clever rhyming of words ending in ‘-ire’.

ROCKMAKER is not without its occasional missteps. Most jarring is ‘Alcohol and Cocainemarijuananicotine’ serving as a pale imitation of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’. Closing track, ‘I Will Never Stop Loving You’ features enjoyable vocals from Harry to balance out Taylor-Taylor’s whispers, with its goth-pop missing the mark a little despite standing out as very distinct to the rest of the tracklisting.

Despite its uninspired, yet apt, album title and contrived concept, ROCKMAKER is a solid tribute to the genre which inspired its production. The Dandy Warhols fill a gap for a full-on rock album which traverses grunge, post-punk, metal and industrial in creating a multifaceted and accomplished record.

Rating: 8.2/10

ROCKMAKER is out on Friday (15 March) via Sunset Blvd Records


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