Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (Capitol ’00) Rating: B+
To quote band leader Courtney Taylor-Taylor: “sometimes you just want the rock. With all the super hi-tech production going on, we felt like we needed to make the last classic rock album.” And though he overstates his band’s case (remember, this is a guy who once cockily claimed “I sneeze and hits come out!,” a great line by the way), by and large the Dandy Warhols have succeeded admirably in their aim. As such, the band’s psychedelic pop sound has readily identifiable traces of both classic rockers past (Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex) and soon to be (My Bloody Valentine, Beck, Cowboy Junkies), but what’s most impressive about this no-frills album is how the band manages to handle so many different styles so well. For instance, “Godless,” a groovy George Harrison-like number with hooky horns, segues seamlessly into the atmospheric mood piece “Mohammed,” which leads into the explosive “Nietzsche.” The slide guitar happy “Country Leaver” sounds like a Let It Bleed outtake (except I like it about as much as “Country Honk”), while “Solid” and “Shakin” are indeed solid solo Iggy Pop styled groovers sure to get your rump shakin’. An abrasive edge marks the rather irritating “Horse Pills,” “Get Off” is a catchy acoustic duet that’s among the album’s best songs, and “Sleep” is a lullaby-like mood piece that’s certainly aptly titled (and arguably over-long). Finally, “Cool Scene” is a lightly funky, trippy pop gem that recalls Beck, first single “Bohemian Like You” (the album's best known song) delivers pure Stonesy goodness, “Big Indian” is also agreeably Beck-like but mellower, and the sleepy finale “The Gospel” brings to mind a male fronted Cowboy Junkies. And there you have it, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, an enjoyably retro album whose primary strength is in its consistency, as there are few songs I consider outright filler and few songs I consider major highlights. Taylor-Taylor cannily inhabits a wide range of singing styles (he’s also joined by drummer Brent DeBoer on some strong harmonies), and though he sometimes follows his templates too closely and the album is often very good but rarely great (unlike his heroes), this is above all else a fun listening experience. After all, “sometimes you just want the rock,” and for the most part the Dandy Warhols deliver it. Note: This band of course is now forever linked with the Brian Jonestown Massacre due to the excellent documentary Dig!