Dan Melchior

Bitterness, Spite, Rage and Scorn

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With the release of his second full-length for In the Red Records, former Billy Childish sideman Dan Melchior offers a more fully realized vision of the frazzled country, blues, punk, and R&B sound he unleashed with 2001's Heavy Dirt. (Oldtime-Futureshock predates Heavy Dirt, but has become too difficult to come by to be useful as a reference point for our purposes.) Bitterness, Spite, Rage and Scorn gets off to a raucous start with the triple play of "Hungry Ghost," "You're My Wife," and "Black Light." Hypnotic and clearly an album highlight, "Black Light" is based on Melchior's typical wall of noise, but with a guitar line woven through it that sounds like a glowing amalgam of the White Stripes and Oasis -- full of youthful venom and vigor, but with a bit of classic rock soul. A rather witty narrative detailing how the title characters' lives repeatedly cross paths without ever knowing it, "Me and J.G. Ballard" lingers in the same sleazy musical neighborhood as Scotland's Country Teasers and Childish's various groups (as does much of the album as a whole). "Semi Famous People" continues down a similarly gritty musical path, until the last 30 seconds or so when it turns into an acoustic Delta number, leaving the listener wide-eyed and waiting for more. A truly lonely number, "Ladies Underwear and Airline Socks" again strikes close to Teasers territory, offering lyrics about being overwhelmed by financial worries and the world at large ("Car alarms, sirens and construction sites/Got my ears ringing all day and all night/When I go somewhere where there's peace and quiet/I feel terrified"). The first real taste of Melchior's R&B obsession comes through on "Gatecrasher," a facet of his sound that plays unexpectedly well as part of his Frankenstein approach to rock & roll. Melchior's tremendous sense of experimentation and his lack of boundaries are refreshing qualities in a musical scene where too many groups try to adhere to strict, self-imposed stylistic guidelines, often under the guise of "authenticity."

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