March 18, 2004

Test Spin: The Damnwells

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Dwelling somewhere in the abyss between alternative and roots rock, The Damnwells bring a carefully cultivated pop sensibility to their newest release, Bastard of the Beat. Recently released via Red Ink, the album boasts strong songwriting and lushly orchestrated — if not always fully realized — arrangements. Producer Tim Hatfield (Bottle Rockets, The Backsliders) does a commendable job on the more straight ahead rock tunes.

But the band’s overly ambitious attempts to explore beyond their typical sonic boundaries end up pushing him out of his element. After the brief introductory lament, lead singer Alex Dezen skillfully toes the line between roots rock and alternative pop