Dito Montiel

Dito Montiel

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For admirers of the movie A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, it is important to note that Dito Montiel's self-titled album is a supplement rather than an official soundtrack. This record does not (repeat, does not) include the opening glam jam "New York Groove" as recorded by Ace Frehley of Kiss. That aside, it's likely that fans will still find the autobiographical and self-examining lyrics a fantastic accompaniment to the film. All the songs here were written and performed by the scriptwriter, Montiel, and lend a much deeper insight into the psyche of the protagonist as he grows up in a dangerous part of Queens, escapes to California, and later fondly recalls the people of his past. Considering that Montiel's memoirs inspired both the movie script and the album lyrics, the basic plot of the record is nothing shocking. The unexpected twist is that Montiel's ability to sing and write catchy songs is as solid his script writing ability. Most of the material sprawls back into the early '90s, just after Montiel finished his punk career as the frontman for Gutterboy. A good share of the songs sound like they were baked under the heavy influence of Pablo Honey, with added sprinkles of Matthew Sweet, and both Jakob Dylan and Modern Times-era Bob Dylan. The punky aesthetic is long gone and replaced with a comforting blend of folk and alt rock, and this makes for an interesting combination of punk rock sensibilities and adult contemporary rock when he references a painting of Black Flag on his jacket over the jingle jangle of the Byrds/Tom Petty-influenced "1987." Seeing this is an album that recalls growing up in the underworld of New York, there are some decidedly Velvet Underground moments, complete with obligatory tales of scoring narcotics and an occasional tribute to Lou Reed's monotonous drawl. These gritty songs mesh well with some of the forgivably sappy love songs, and the two merged conflicting styles form a balanced and pleasant overall tone. Arguably, the best cut is the simple and sweet guitar and glockenspiel based "You and I (We Burn Like Satellites)" which is blanketed by an honest and sentimental poetic narrative that makes listening reminiscent of reading a love letter to Queens, or opening a photo album overflowing with polaroids from the lost teenage years.

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