Before You Save the World

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Five years after the Dwellers' excellent though largely ignored EMI Records debut, Whatever Makes You Happy, Before You Save the World finds the band, called simply Dweller, with a few new members but the same gritty and expertly crafted rock. Leader/frontman John Adriani's radio-ready songwriting chops are completely intact, making it doubly unfortunate that Dweller was dropped from EMI, effectively negating a great album's opportunities for mass airplay. Surprisingly though, considering it's self-released, this record is actually a hair slicker and poppier than the group's first effort. That said, Before You Save the World retains all of the T. Rex/Cheap Trick/New York Dolls nastiness that made the debut such a pleasure, plus adds a dose of the kind of maturity and wistful melancholy that only experience and hard luck can produce. Standout tracks include the title cut, which is a sweeping "All the Young Dudes"- or "Let It Be"-style ballad, and "If I Were Superman," the perfect red-caped rocker for those who think that Five for Fighting song is just a bit too drippy. Also here is a somewhat curious re-recording of "Rocket Ride," which doesn't really improve on the original, but works well in the context of the album. Overall, Before You Save the World makes one wonder why the Black Crowes are successful though they haven't written a good song since 1992, while Dweller labors in obscurity, pumping out one "shoulda-been-a-Top-Ten" tune after another.

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