Impressive But Inconsistent
There’s a long tradition of white men playing the blues. Many are good, some even great (Eric Clapton’s tribute to Robert Johnson for example), but most play a specific type of music that we will call “White Boy Blues.” It’s marked by a cheesy twang of the Stratocaster playing the five same recycled riffs and is full of meaningless solos. Perhaps most importantly; it sucks. “White Boy Blues” is an easy trap for guys to fall into, mainly due to the fact that it is easy music to make – it requires no grit and no self-awareness. Fortunately, Dommegang’s debut album, Everybody’s Boogie, avoids the trap. In fact, the two blues tracks on the album, “Her Blues” and “Wild In The Street Blues,” are two of the album’s best. It is a testament to the maturity of the group that three white guys from Brooklyn were capable of making such remarkably un-cheesy blues tracks.
“Wild In The Street Blues” is particularly triumphant. It is a spooky, unexpected, and dirty track. A single chord drones over a shuffled, sandy beat while high-pitched ghosts float in the back. The feeling of being on a road alone at night has rarely been captured this well. Listening with all the lights off, it is a downright scary song, and more importantly, it is bluesy as hell.
There are some other great tracks on the album as well. “Hats Off To Magic” is a scorcher – powerful and sloppy in all the right ways. The guitar solo is unrestrained and aggressively picked in the style of “I’m The Man Who Loves You”-era Jeff Tweedy. While the song builds and recedes, even the quieter moments are chaotic and thrilling, bolstered by excellent drumming and the ominous aftertaste of the preceding sections. Just when you think it is over and you are finally catching your breath, the band transitions into the 30-second long “Slow Hat,” a segue which can only be properly described as disgusting; slightly off beat drums explode under industrial sounds and distorted guitars. While it is a strange addition, it counts as the second bluesiest moment of the album, and one of the best.
Despite the moments of greatness, too much of Everybody’s Boogie gets lost in the long meandering instrumental sections. Most songs have about 45 seconds of vocals, if they have them at all. On the quicker tracks (and “Wild In The Street Blues”) the band is able to generate enough energy to keep the songs fresh, but when the music slows down for extended periods of time the group seems to lose focus. A few of the tracks sound like they belong in the middle of a longer song and lack purpose.
Everybody’s Boogie is an impressive if inconsistent debut. Just from listening, one gets the impression that these guys put on a killer live show and are probably worth the price of admission.