CD Review: The Dexateens — Singlewide

DexateensSinglewide

The Dexateens
Singlewide
Skybucket Records

By Alexandra Edwards

Alt-country has never really enjoyed a
revival of popularity since its blip on the college radio map in the mid-'90s.
Sure, individual bands or albums may enjoy some time in the spotlight, but
there's no sense of exploration across the genre. It's a shame, too, since The
Dexateens are the perfect band to lead just such an alt-country
rebirth.

The strength is the "alt" in that alt-country. The band pulls
more on their rock influences, unlike their current peers who've mostly veered
off into folk territory. Recalling Some Girls-era Stones as well as
Uncle Tupelo — the vocals in particular evoke that warbling Jay Farrar sound,
though slightly more nasally — new album Singlewide (on sale May 12) sounds like it could
be appreciated in any number of settings, from the front porch to the bar. It
opens with some scattered talking, and then in comes the guitar and wonderfully
homemade-sounding percussion, like the beat was being sounded out on
countertops, boxes, and the bands' knees. 

But for all their alt
influences, and the briefly blistering rock of "Can You Whoop It," the album
really runs the gamut of country sounds. "Spark" alone features an upbeat,
catchy country rhyme scheme, close harmony on the vocals, and a bit of that
train-chugging sound right at the end. Songs like "Caption" conjure lazy days
via the meandering lead guitar, noodling its way along the track with a
significant amount of twang. And the wistfully nostalgic "New Boy" reminds
listeners that banjo can be plaintive just as easily as it can be
jaunty.

The band is better on the upbeat tracks ("Charlemagne"). When
they slow the tempo, especially towards the end of the album, they start to lose
focus. And the nasally vocals can start to grate a little after an entire
album. But in the end, Singlewide is exactly the album alt-country
needs: equal parts joyful and reflective in the way that only country music can
be, and cool enough to be enjoyed by the indie crowd.

The Dexateens play with The Features at Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC Tuesday May 12. Tickets are available here, or try your luck at winning a pair of tickets from us here.

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