The Portland, Oregon band The Dandy Warhols sure have enjoyed a rather schizophrenic career in its nearly two decades length. Originally formed in 1992, the group first steadily built up a well-regarded reputation as an intriguing psychedelic pop outfit that could write songs that were arty like Velvet Underground and commercial like Brit rockers Pulp and Blur.
Things started getting rougher, however, as critics started slamming the band, and more particularly lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor, for being posers. This intensified when the band changed its guitar-based sound for a keyboard rock one for the 2003 album Welcome to the Monkey House.
(Not helping matters was a documentary around this time that chronicled the band’s ongoing fight with another West coast group, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.)
Unfortunately, Taylor-Taylor and his mates haven’t fully recovered their mojo since, despite recording new music. That might end, however, because the newly released Dandy Warhols compilation entitled The Capitol Years just might get the band’s creative juices going again.
The Capitol Years is an intriguing overview of the group’s 12 years with the major label Capitol Records and it features many top shelf recordings.
The collection gets off to a fantastic start with tracks from the band’s first two major offerings. “Boys Better” is from 1997’s The Dandy Warhols Come Down and its glam-inspired guitar hooks are downright infectious. Taylor-Taylor also shows off his wicked lyrical sense with the satirical “Not If You Were The Last Junkie on Earth” from the same album.
As for that sophomore cd–2000’s Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, pop gems like the trumpet-infused, acoustic guitar-driven “Godless” and the band’s biggest hit “Bohemian Like You” show The Dandy Warhols were true originals despite some critics who have accused the group of borrowing from its influences too closely.
After that great beginning, there is some letdown here and there but that is to be expected because even the group’s most loyal fans say the past few years haven’t been the best for The Dandys. Still, tracks like “We Used To Be Friends” which was actually the theme song to Veronica Mars and “The Last High” which was co-written by Evan Dando don’t disappoint at all.
Also, it should be noted that the band decided to use different mixes of certain songs than the stuff that appeared on the original albums. This is mostly good except in the case of the track “Scientist” which is more bass heavy than the original.
In the end, The Capitol Years is a fine overview of the Portland band for newcomers and a welcome reminder of The Warhols’ charms for longtime fans. Let’s hope though that it spurs the band that was once diverse enough to collaborate with such artists as R&B icon Nile Rodgers, the Dire Straits’ leader Mark Knopfler, and Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes to a new creative phase that is equal to the best parts of its past.
Author-Todd Sikorski[Rating: 4/5]