CD Review: The dB’s – Falling Off The Sky
No one would blame the members of the dBs if they had continued on their separate ways, drumming for Steve Earle, playing with Hootie & the Blowfish, R.E.M., and the Continental Drifters, and otherwise contributing to music in A-list circles.
Lucky for fans of the crunchy Smithereens-meet-REM sound of the dBs, the members have come together to create the cool kicky music that brought them acclaim as a band in the 1980s.
Make no mistake — this is no weary dinosaur band. One listen to “Falling Off the Sky,” the group’s recent 12-track release, more than proves that point. Although the first songs on the album filled me with infatuation, I was ready to take our relationship to the next level (i.e. put the music on my iPod) when “The Adventures of Albatross and Doggerell” kicked in.
Classic garage band punk rock fan that I am, that Chris Stamey song had me with the jangling guitars and just-shy-of-over-the-top-drums, but sealed the deal with the arrangement on “Adventures” that includes some fairly strong violins and cello.
Other songs penned by Sneakers’ alum Stamey, including “Before We Were Born,” are just as dynamic – thanks in large part to the virtuoso guitar playing – but are a straighter, purer kind of power pop.
Lest you fear “Fallling Off the Sky” might be too sugary for your taste, note that the songs by the group’s other main songwriter for the album, Peter Holsapple, are a bit darker, likely echoing his R.E.M veteran status.
Together, it’s a nice Lennon-McCartney musical balancing act, not too heavy, not too sweet.
The bottom line is that this is a reunion album – the group’s first recording in three decades – but in name only. How cool is it that this band could gain all the nuances and street cred of A-list musicians and step back to put out songs that are as vivid and joyful as they created in the early days.
Little wonder this album is already hailed as the best dBs’ recording ever.