Dean Ween Group
As much as Dean Ween’s first solo outing showed promise, it still felt like more of a step in the right direction. He comes around to hit his stride however on this sophomore release, letting all of his scatter-brained creative energy flow from genre to genre. Though it’s not the most cohesive listen, this record is one that will impress nonetheless.
The cutting bass that really plows through on “Showstopper” is just that, and Ween’s ability to bring a whole groove out of the simple hook is just sublime. As classic and derivative as the classic rock writing, the frantic energy that Ween and co. bring to it on every level is just sublime. While you might be forgiven for being off-put by the sleaze of “Fingerbangin'” there’s an undeniable swing to the song’s mix of sax and heavy beats. Like the best late night jam session you’ve never heard before, the mix of drums and heavy-handed energy keeps the song a constantly dance-inducing listen.
“Don’t Let The Moon Catch You Crying” interprets Ween’s old track with much fresher life, that acknowledges the original while earning its right to exist in a new form. The new verses feel much more emotionally rich and Ween’s performance feels layered by the way the song has changed for him over time. Intense grime sets in on “Waste Station 9” as the band layers vocals almost like a secondary distortion to create a piece with John Carpenter’s mix of cinematic majesty and rock energy. While more thematic than many of Ween’s tracks, it has a triumphant energy that makes it exhilarating to listen to.
The fat tones of “Love Theme from ‘Skinheads Kicking Your Ass'” has so much more complexity than its name would suggest. It’s this frantic riff-work and boisterous rhythms that make the track zip by so fast. Though “Someone Greased The Fatman” feels almost too simple in its blues-rock, Ween really sets a bit of atmosphere in the song to make it all feel more grand. The absolutely chaotic guitar that flows into the song’s second half really pushes the song over the top, to show Ween’s amazing technicality and personality.
“The Ritz Carlton” completely changes moods however for a suave but directed jazz number that never seems to slow down. Though it flows a bit long for its more interlude-based sound, you start to understand why as Ween injects some loud rock fury in the song’s second half. With some seventies swagger, “This Heart of Palm” soars on huge synths while its riffs show a more destructive sense of emotion. The drums are the most dynamic part of the sound however, as they tie each break in the song into the overall energy of the song.
Distorted and ugly aesthetics bite into “Yellow Pontiac” as Ween shows his kooky temper as he lets loose on the guitar. This over-the-top performance feels a lot more interesting than his all too lewd pastiche blurring on “Pussy On My Pillow.” While it’s harder to cut through the noise on these tracks “Sunset Over Belmar” closes things on a much more straightforward and fiery tear of guitar that wraps things up with a nice sense of closure.
Words by Owen Maxwell