• All Ages Welcome
• Vinyl is a general admission, standing room venue
• Tickets available online via Ticketalternative.com or without ticket fees in person at the Center Stage Box Office, M-F, 11-6. Online sales end at 6pm on day of show.
It’s official. The Damnwells are done. “It was an amazing run,” says Alex Dezen. “But it’s time to move on.” 16 years, 5 albums, and countless miles later, Dezen is finally stepping out on his own with his second solo album in two years. Truth be told, the tenuous formation which has carried the Damnwells moniker over the last decade and a half has always featured Dezen’s voice and songs front and center. Both 2007’s One Last Century 2010’s No One Listens to the Band Anymore employed a wide net of musicians and friends, often without founding members Steven Terry, Ted Hudson, and David Chernis. So, in many ways, II, the second solo album from Damnwells frontman, is just a continuation of what Dezen has been doing his entire career. Only it isn’t that at all.
From the fuzzed-out refrains of “When You Give Up” to the lush harmonies of “Everything’s Great (Everything’s Terrible)” to the acoustic folkie life lessons of “The Boys of Bummer,” II showcases the creative spark of an artist coming into his prime — a songwriter who has been able to deftly thread the needle between his past, present, and future. II, which is being released on February 3, 2017 on Poor Man Records, remains undaunted, pushing artistic boundaries like never before.
“In many ways,” says Dezen, “the job of an artist is to re-examine what came before. That informswhat we do next.” Taken as a whole, II displays a penchant for blending both retro and modern sounds to forge something new, yet still creating something catchy enough to hook the listener on the very first spin. “My intention when I made this record was not to make an ’80s record,” Dezen clarifies. “But as soon as I got the guitar in my hands and started messing around with chords and getting further along into the production and the writing, it just went that way — and it felt very natural to me.” Songs like “Holding On to You (Holding On to Me)” builds on the Lindsey Buckingham-esq sonic palette made famous on Fleetwood Mac’s magnum studio opus, 1979’s Tusk, and brings it into the
modern age. “That music has been in my mind and in my ears as long as I can remember,” Dezen admits. “The late-’70s was an interesting time. Disco was dying, so there’s this weird combination of disco and rock & roll happening together, which produced some really cool stuff.” Dezen is pleased with the ways this album bridges the gap between then and now, and doesn’t shy away from the obvious comparisons. “I’m well aware of it,” says Dezen. “I welcome it. I wish I had been in that band! This song is the closest I’m going to get.”
Dezen, who wrote, performed, produced, and mixed this record almost entirely on his own, thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent in a band. “The beauty of being in a band,” Dezen explains, “is you’ve got all these different influences coming in. But when you’re making a record by yourself and you’re producing it by yourself, you can chase down any and every idea to its most perfect conclusion. You can really explore all the things and ideas you want.”
Mike Dunn: In the fall of 2013, several years had passed since Mike Dunn released an album with his band Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England. He had taken time off from music and touring to “grow up.” You know, get a job and get married. And though he never stopped writing songs, nothing felt worth its weight in vinyl. With a dark cloud of self-doubt looming like an afternoon storm in summer, Dunn knew it was time for a new chapter. So he picked himself up by his bootstraps, rented a cabin in the woods and set out to write a record.
He rigged up a little studio in the two-bedroom shack on a lake. He read Flannery O'Connor, ate rare steak, drank good whiskey, took naps and, lo and behold, wrote a song. When the week was up, so was his song count; he left with five songs and the roots of what would become the sprawling Hard Luck Soft Rock. The ten song album shows Dunn as a veteran of the music scene, a songwriter enjoying his art without worrying about success. Instead of chasing an ever-moving finish line, his heartfelt lyrics and rock melodies prove he is finally enjoying the run.
In describing the album, it’s best to lean on one of Dunn’s favorite quotes from Paul Westerberg: “We weren’t invited to the party, so we threw our own.” Reuniting with producer Louis DeFabrizio (Gasoline Heart), who produced Dunn’s first record in 2007, made it easy to pave this new musical path. And fortunately for the rest of us, this is a rock ’n roll party with Americana grit and power pop hooks we’re all welcome to attend.