Quick Spins: Doomtree’s Dessa, Beulah’s Miles and Drew … from Utah“Quick Spins” are expedient, pretension-free album reviews. This installment tackles Dessa’s “A Badly Broken Code,” Miles Kurosky’s “The Desert of Shallow Effects” and Drew Danburry’s “Goodnight Gary.”
Dessa’s “A Badly Broken Code”
WHAT IT IS: The full-length solo debut from Dessa, the lone female member of Minneapolis’ premier hip-hop collective, Doomtree. It follows her debut EP, the five-song “False Hopes,” and “Spiral Bound,” a collection of essays and poetry — not to mention her numerous contributions to the Doomtree crew albums.
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: Dessa (Darling) long ago proved herself as one of the world’s most appealing female talents, so there was a lot riding on this eagerly awaited released. At the very least I was expecting a continuation of her “False Hopes” sessions, but this highly literate follow-up honestly defied all expectations: “A Badly Broken Code” finds Dessa running down a ramped-up expressway to fortune and fame. If radio-friendly songs like “The Chaconne,” a duet with Lupe Fiasco chum Matthew Santos, and “The Crow,” which features back-up vocals from Doomtree phenom P.O.S., don’t land her on airwaves from coast to coast, there is no hope for culture in America. On the other hand, with top-notch production from Doomtree pals Lazerbeak, MK Larada, Cecil Otter and Paper Tiger, was there ever even a question of whether or not this would be worth your time?
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Buy it. As much time as I’ve spent with Dessa’s “False Hopes” installment, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll soon need to borrow a backup copy of this album as well.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: Dessa will be in town March 21 as she and P.O.S. take to the Pizza Luce stage. (Full details TBA.) Until then, there are a slew of Dessa videos over at www.doomtree.net.
Miles Kurosky’s “The Desert of Shallow Effects”
WHAT IT IS: The long-awaited solo debut from former Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky continues on where that shoulda-been-legendary San Francisco’s final magnum opus, 2003’s “Yoko,” left off. In other words, it’s the perfect marriage of the ideals put forth by Brian Wilson — as in, an undeniable yearning to craft grandiose headphone masterpieces — and the sometimes-out-there-but-pop-is-still-god approach utilized by the Elephant 6 collective (other member bands included Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, Dressy Bessy and Elf Power).
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: Considering that Kurosky was unable to pick up his guitar — let alone do much of anything else — due to the fact that he suffered through shoulder surgery upon shoulder surgery following Beulah’s demise, the first question a lot of people will be asking, of course, is whether or not this album was worth the wait. Well … was it? Wasn’t it? A resounding “Yes!!!” Sorry to get all junior high on you with the deployment of multiple exclamation points, but I don’t think you know how much this album means to music geeks like me. In the alternate universe in which I’ve fallen into/created for myself, Beulah was the rock band of the late ’90s/early ’00s, and some of us have been holding our breath since 2003 for the day we’d get our grubby little paws on “The Desert of Shallow Effects.” That’s seven years, man. Luckily, Kurosky’s still got it, and, led by songs like “Pink Lips, Black Lungs,” “West Memphis Skyline” and the oh-so-exciting “An Apple for an Apple,” this is one album that doesn’t disappoint in the slightest — an easy contender for album of the year.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Buy it … now. I haven’t been this sure of a recommendation in at least five years.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: “The Desert of Shallow Effects” will be released March 9 on Majordomo (home of Earlimart and the Airborne Toxic Event). Hear some tracks off it at www.myspace.com/mileskurosky, or, if you fancy the 400 Bar in Minneapolis, he’ll be there April 2.
Drew Danburry’s “Goodnight Gary”
WHAT IT IS: Everyone makes fun of Marc Gartman for being ever-so-prolific, but, somewhere out Utah way, he has an equal. This equal goes by the name Drew Danburry, and ever since his Weezer-leaning group the Danburrys called it a day in the early ’00s, he’s released a slew of albums: “An Introduction to Sex Rock” (2004), “Besides: Are We Just Playing Around Out Here, or Do We Mean What We Say?” (2005), “Live in France!” and the “Mother” EP (both 2007), “This Could Mean Trouble, You Don’t Speak for the Club” (2008), the “Geraniums” EP (2009) and, earlier this week, “Goodnight Gary.” Compounding this, Danburry has played — by his own calculations — more than 750 shows in the last five years. So, what have we learned so far? Danburry likes to A) make music, B) play said music live and C) give his creations longer-than-necessary titles. I only bring up this last point because, from an outsider’s perspective, I am sure it seems like a gimmick. Like Danburry is over-compensating for a lack of talent or whatnot. Thankfully, that’s not the case; while he is certainly not a household name yet, those who have encountered his music seem to genuinely appreciate and understand what he does.
WHAT ONE JERK THINKS ABOUT IT: See above. I’m a fan.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO ABOUT IT: Buy it (obviously). One listen to the undeniably catchy “Gas Masks at the Barbecue Beach Party Make-Out Session” and you’ll be a believer in no time.
… BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: “Goodnight Gary” is out now on Emergency Umbrella Records. If you’ve never heard what Drew Danburry is all about, the singer/songwriter offers up a number of free MP3 downloads on his Web site, www.drewdanburry.com.
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