The Damnwells

Air Stereo

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The Damnwells have concocted a sound somewhere between alternative country and alternative rock on Air Stereo, an odd combination of rough and tumble electric guitars and smooth harmony. Perhaps the band's oddest trademark is its Eagles-style harmony on "Golden Days," an element that adds a bit of pop sheen to the Damnwells' sound. The arrangements are fairly straightforward, with guitar, bass, and drums covering the basics while lap steel and piano add a little something extra. Alex Dezen handles the lead vocals, and like a number of his peers, embodies the right mixture of white boy angst and sincerity on songs like "Sell the Lie." At times, this rustic, anguished approach seems to run against the grain of the happier songs on the album like "I've Got You" and "Accidental Man," and is likewise at odds with the pretty harmony. But the Damnwells, like many other alternative bands, never seem to stay happy for very long. The elliptical "Shiny Bruise" follows a morose tempo that says more than the actual lyrics: this is music to get depressed by. Occasionally, the group's guitar work -- as on "I've Got You" -- attempts to break out, drawing from classic rock and creating temporary moments of transcendence. But a great deal of Air Stereo, while accomplished, reminds one very much of albums by the Damnwells alternative peers.

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