The Best Albums of 2011: #4

The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps

“Once you know the way down, the path belongs to you“… So says lead singer Greg Dulli on the track “Get Lucky” from the band’s most recent release, Dynamite Steps.

While Dulli rose to fame as the lead singer of the mighty 90′s alt-rock group, The Afghan Whigs, he’s managed to duplicate that same success as the brains behind The Twilight Singers. Though the makeup of each bands differs, the sound has followed the same formula: dark and evocative lyrics, combined with a gritty rock n’ roll sound with a touch of traditional R&B. And of course, Dulli’s scratchy, slightly-out-of-tune, voice serving as the signature piece. While Dulli’s career has been prolific, Dynamite Steps is indeed his best work since The Afghan Whigs’ Black Love.

What sets Dynamite Steps apart from its predecessors is it’s subtlety. Don’t get me wrong, Dulli’s still eager to flex his muscle as he does on the pulsating headbanger “Waves.” But more often, he’s content showing off his songwriting chops in more subtle ways, as he does on the sublime “She Was Stolen.” On the romp “Blackbird and the Fox” (featuring old friend Ani DiFranco) Dulli shows versatility not seen since the band’s covers album She Loves You. But the gem of the album is the coda- “Dynamite Steps.” Coming in at nearly 7 minutes, the title track encapsulates the album as a whole as it glides through its various movements, only to reach its climactic point as Dulli proclaims a much deserved victory.

Select Cuts: On the Corner, She Was Stolen, Blackbird & the Fox, Dynamite Steps

Advertisements

The Greatest Album of the 2000s

TwilightSingers-PowderBurns#16.  The Twilight Singers- Powder Burns (2006): Former Afghan Whigs front man Greg Dulli (performing as the Twilight Singers) once again delivers with Powder Burns.   Recorded in Dulli’s adopted hometown of New Orleans during and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,  Powder Burns was in some ways a return to form.   His previous album “She Loves You” was a collection of cover songs featuring works by John Coltrane and Bjork among others (no really).  Like much of Dulli’s music, Powder Burns delivers on raw emotion.  But this time, recording sober, and with Katrina as a backdrop, Powder Burns brings out the demons.  But its not all doom and gloom.  The album shines most brightly on  “Forty Dollars,” a fun romp about love with Dulli offering plenty of it.  But this isn’t just any old love song.  In Dulli’s snarky, misanthropic way, he claims “love don’t mean a thing but 2 a.m. and a telephone ring.”   Not yet done, he has a little fun with the tune quoting a few Beatles tunes.  But Dulli knows when to pull back and he does so with skill on more understated tracks like “Candy Cane Crawl” and “The Conversation.”  One of the most listenable albums I’ve heard in some time, it really delivers with soaring melodies, great guitar work, and the signature Dulli vocal style- basically sounding like a guy that’s just smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds while drinking a bottle of Jack.  If you dig some good old fashioned 90’s influenced alt-rock, I implore you to check this one out; it does not disappoint.

Faves: There’s Been an Accident, Forty Dollars, Bonnie Brae, The Conversation