Seemingly from nowhere (though actually just from Upstate), The Dwellers burst onto the New York City scene in 1995 with an unabashedly retro power-pop/gutter rock sound. The group seemingly had it all: a cute but trashy front man, super catchy New York Dolls/Cheap Trick/Rolling Stones-style tuneage, a raw, rockin' band, and heavyweights like producer Tony Visconti in its corner. EMI quickly snapped The Dwellers up, released their first album and…the record went nowhere and the group promptly disappeared. A typical record industry tale perhaps, but particularly a shame in this case, ‘cause the disc really is quite good. A mixture of Aerosmith's whiskey chugging guitar boogie, sneering Big Star harmonies and tons of ‘tude, the CD was one of the most fully-realized debut albums in ages. The music was nothing new, of course, and certainly had little to do with the 1995 prevailing trends of alternative rock or recycled grunge, but it was full of energy and undeniably poppy. In the end, though, the Dwellers were a classic case of right band, wrong time. Luckily, Whatever Makes You Happy's dismal sales make it an easy find in the cut-out bins. The disc is a real lost gem worth searching for, especially for those who wish thatSoul Asylum could have come up with just one more good album.
Whatever Makes You Happy Review
by Pemberton Roach