DIME Sessions: Volume 1 is a chop suey of young Detroit talent. And like chop suey, the assortment lends it its strength. Produced by Original 1265 Recordings, what stuck out on first listen is that the production was smooth despite juggling a range of genres. From folk-soul to EDM, each arrangement wasn't saturated with unnecessary elements. DIME and Original 1265 strove to keep it simple and organic, which is what these musicians need to be at this point in their careers.
Willa Rae and the Minor Arcana achieve this organic sound in the desperado-like ballad of "Ladylike." With Rae's acoustic crooning and the Minor Arcana's jangly vibe, this song showcases Rae as a budding folk-blues heavyweight. Reed Knight also achieves this organic sound in "Creature of the Night," which sounds like a Doors bootleg. The pulsating rhythm, combined with Knight's lower range voice, lend this track to the Doors' swing. Knight might want to invest in black leather pants in the near future.
However, submitting one song into a compilation album cannot be the endgame of these young musicians. Their DIME single may put them on the radar, but producing a full-length LP will test whether these newbies sink or swim. It is time to take off DIME's water wings and plunge.
The Great Indoors
The Great Indoors are a band that rewards patience. The opening track of their debut album Enjoy Yourself is over seven minutes and devoid of singing, instead filled with slow-building guitar interplay and ambient sounds of audience chatter. It's a confident move when an up-and-coming band doesn't feel the need to shock you into attention right off the bat, and even if a couple guitars playing for seven minutes may not be that interesting, it's still a unique way to begin.
But the singing starts immediately on the second track, "Green Jacket." The Great Indoors' vocals can have a tendency, especially early in the album, to suddenly switch into a grunge-y snarl, which doesn't ever fit with the relatively soft guitar interplay, but when the singer dials it back the results are solid. The middle of the record is a string of soft tender-hearted ballads, punctuated by "Pills," an epic song with horns and sweeping "oh-oh-oh" vocals.
The record's highlight might be "Parallel," a burst of intellectual pop-rock coming after that series of softer songs. It's the best burst of power the band gives on the album, and it eventually leads into a big instrumental crescendo. It's a great energizer to set everything up for Enjoy Yourself's second half. In the home stretch, things move more quickly. The drums take on a more active role in the music, which helps make the songs a little poppier even if they don't have clear hooks. Throughout Enjoy Yourself, the band mostly exercises great restraint with their instruments, even if the vocals on songs like "Black Creek" can be a little overwrought and tortured. If you hate Brand New, maybe the Great Indoors aren't for you, but personally, at least, I'm a big fan of that aesthetic and the band does the underratedly tough job of pulling it off without being grating. The straight-up acoustic folk closer, "Lakes," is a change of pace too.
In their best moments, the Great Indoors recall sensitive '80s English bands like the Smiths and the late '90s emo wave that included early Jimmy Eat World and Sunny Day Real Estate. Enjoy Yourself is a promising, well-crafted debut from a band that needs to spend a little more time figuring out what works and what doesn't, but still has plenty of tangible indie-pop and emo potential.
(Razor & Tie)
In any run-of-the-mill action movie there is a moment where the protagonist gains the machine gun or tank and badass music is queued. Wilson is that badass music. It is heavy and doesn't overthink itself. The listener isn't overloaded with symphonic metal solos or abstract chord progressions. And although Wilson would be at home in a hectic action movie scene, their music is centralized and controlled.
This is evident from the title track, "Right to Rise." When verses come in, guitars drop out and bass comes up. As the verse ends, the band drops out and lets the vocals scream in the break. This is textbook dynamics, which is refreshing to hear in heavy rock music, a genre often demonized for being too monotonous with their usual four-minute bangers.
"Windows Down!" should be the theme song for Mad Max. As the track opens to static changing radio stations, "DJ Dutch Hercules" preaches "to warm the cockles of your black little hearts," listen to the next track with your windows down. It is a testament to Detroit muscle cars marauding around the city with their V8s exuding that leaded gasoline smell. This is definitely a song designed for the listener to speed to. Be warned. The Michigan State Troopers should pay these guys commission for this one.
A wrench in the spokes is "Before I Burn." With a minute of Delta Blues acoustic and vocals, the track starts carefree and light. The grit of vocalist Chad Nicefield suits the blues well. Then the main progression drops down like an aerial assault and doesn't let up. And although it would've been more badass to see a return to this rollicky blues in the track's closing, it is nice to see this cross-genre comfort with Wilson.
A picky error in production: The additional chiming in and repeating a few lines of the chorus in distorted mic fills needs to stay in the '90s hard-rock scene. It doesn't add anything to the tracks and complicates an otherwise straight shooter. Besides that the production is unnoticeable, which is exactly what it should be for no nonsense hard rockers. Right to Rise is a satisfying pallet of hard rock jams, windows up or down.