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The Dexateens – Singlewide (Skybucket)

21 May 2009

The DEXATEENS‘ timeless appeal is pretty immediate. The Alabama band’s loose-limbed rock & roll freely blends garage rock, cowpunk and ROLLING STONES or FACES shake ‘n’ shimmy, slathering the resultant hot sauce over a steaming platter of exceptional songs. The quintet’s fifth record, Singlewide emphasizes writing over clatter, as the guitar-crazy group turns down its amps and lets tunes speak louder than power chords. Leaders JOHN SMITH and ELLIOT MCPHERSON have a raggedly endearing vocal chemistry, like that of NIKKI SUDDEN and DAVE KUSWORTH in the JACOBITES. The harmonies are in perfect pitch for the record’s vulnerable morning-after vibe, as if the boys were feeling a little guilty skipping church to pick on the porch. Beyond the immediate appeal of the warm, mostly acoustic arrangements and the plainspoken melodies, the tunes actually have some wizened truths to impart: “Granddaddy’s Mouth,” “Caption” and “Hang On” balance life’s little disappointments with hope’s incessant drive, shining at least a sliver of light into every dark corner. The wide-eyed but grounded philosophy climaxes in “Can You Whoop It,” bringing the record to an appropriately elegiac close. Seemingly just out of vision, the Dexateens have insistently become one of the best bands in America, and Singlewide is their strongest statement yet.


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