I was up early at 4:30am to wake the child and see her off to We Day in Toronto with her “Social Climate Club” (whatever the heck that is) at school so I went for a swim. Now, I’m onto Plan B for the day, this 8.79k fartlek run. And given the last two hours of work have already been stupid, I already have stress to burn off so, really, it’s a good thing I guess. This morning’s stress-buster soundtrack then is the ‘Color Me Naked‘ album by Dexter Grove.
I loved these guys back in the day and became quite good friends with them. Every time they blew through Buffalo, I’d go over to check them out and, seriously, for two guys…they could seriously bring the house down. If you closed your eyes, you’d never figure you were listening to a guy on guitar and another on bongos.
They may just have been the biggest sounding little band out there.
Charley Orlando, the guy on the guitar, sings like Steve Malkmus without the tart existential ache, which is sort of like spaghetti without the annoying sauce. He sings songs, all “originals” here, about mountains and highways and freight trains and boxcars, cutting and pasting Polaroids from a life that could belong to millions but probably does
belong to none. He sings to people – or perhaps groups of people, I don’t know – who don’t quite have life as wired as he does. Steve Drizos, the guy on percussion, is capable of playing very fast. If you’re thinking these guys sound like the kind of musicians you might
have carelessly tripped over while sucking on a balloon full of industrial-grade nitrous at some Dead show back in college, you’re probably right.
The boys admit that labeling their music “is something (we) don’t much like to do”. But the phrase “folkadelic experience” has been thrown around and serves as a workable tag to describe the Dexter Grove sound, a mix of bluesy vocals and dynamic acoustic guitar playing, supported by strong and lively rhythms.
Honestly, I’m not sure I could come with anything better but I do love them. It helps that they were really nice guys to boot.
Sadly this was their last album (released in 2001) before they disbanded after nearly a decade of continuous touring in a beat up old van. The album itself was recorded in Seattle,WA and Ontario, NY with special guests, Lewi Longmire, James Whiton, Tim Herron, Ken Juhas, and Kirk Juhas.
So, yeah, you probably haven’t heard of them either, right? No matter, the album is still the total shit. In fact, Drizos’ machine gun congas make for the perfect running cadence, especially with a little clever manipulation of the track listing. ‘Delilah‘, ‘Troubadour‘, ‘My Morning‘, ‘Soar the Sky‘, and ‘Cold‘ all helped some pretty inspired running through 5 x (2 minute HARD!/3 minute recovery) intervals if I do say so myself (and I do!). By comparison, ‘About to Fall‘ and ‘Curtain Call‘ are probably the two best (not to mention apropos) cool down songs that anyone cold ever hope to hear because, I was about to fall and the way might my heart was ready to explode, it could very well have been my ultimate curtain call as well.
In fact, I think I’m even adding this album to my Desert Island album list!