I discovered the Dandy Warhols (though having heard their whip-appealing name before) in 2002, the year I graduated high school. 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia was dark, syrupy and luscious, a sort of Jesus and Mary Chain for someone who doesn’t want to drive a screwdriver through their own head. But mistake not, the album didn’t make me want to go to “urban bohemia,” and though a little curious, I’m still pretty sure Portland is just full of a bunch of hipsters. Nope, my good comrade, in fact I’ve got this corn field I drive by in Indiana every July (so I’m lucky to have an ice cream truck route on the way back from which this field lies, since I own no car), and this is what “Big Indian” from that album is to me (“My old man told me one time / You never get wise you only get older / And most things you never know why / But that’s fine”). Deliciously un-bohemian! But more than anything, just accepting the moment, accepting that sometimes it takes an idyllic dose of sympathy or mercy to become omniscient, and that once you’ve tasted this, life has become a success, no matter what ensues, especially if you’re able to administer some of this perfection in the near subsequence. I put “Get Off” and “Sleep” on a mixtape (tape) right away.
12 years later, I come upon at the library an album that was put out 10 years later: This Machine. And sure it looks like a usual late-era Dandies train wreck, a gaudily impressionistic light blue cover, and generally a bunch of hoopla that tends to, true to west coast form, deliberately evade the visceral (how’s that for an Igby Goes Down vocabulary word?), but I dunno, something inside me just told me they’d found their chutzpah again (or, more likely, the beautiful Asian women in Portland actually left Courtney Taylor-Taylor alone long enough for him to get some writing done). Sure enough, the darkness is back. I was waaaaaiting. There’s a veritable wall of sound, but the sound is broken so intriguingly, and the mix is balanced with the powerful drums the way a lot of bands have had a knack for doing, whether they’re Wolf Parade or Pearl Jam, though I have to say the Warhols do it better than anyone, they’ve completely mastered performing and mixing. The style is the substance.