Fire Note Says: Not surprised that Dean Wells has delivered yet another astounding, quick-hitting, lo-fi, power pop masterpiece.
Album Review: Dean Wells is back. He has changed the name of the band, but there is no denying this is another Dean Wells’ project. Whether it is The Capstan Shafts, Rare High, Sun Hoax, or Loud Springs, it does not really matter; you are going to get some of the best power pop hooks that ever graced planet Earth.
What is astounding is that Dean Wells has been making these types of albums for so long yet stays in relative obscurity. How can one man write so many catchy and excruciatingly good songs, yet still not be more popular? Maybe it is Robert Pollard Syndrome. Symptoms include but are not limited to;
1. A musical genius that can create a memorable melody and an ear-bending hook with ease and with maddening frequency.
2. A prolific discography that extends over 30 releases.
3. Said genius is beloved by a fanatical legion of “in the know “fans.
4. Has numerous side-projects/bands…and all of them are exceptional.
Dean Wells has been recording music since the late 90’s. He has released more than 25 albums as The Capstan Shafts and more recently released various EPs and LPs as Loud Springs, Rare High, and Sun Hoax. Each iteration of his various bands sound similar to the other, but that is a good thing to me. Wells’ projects give the listener what they want; short songs filled with lo-fi buzz, power pop hooks and memorable melodies and choruses.
The Astounds delivers it in heaps. 12 tracks worth, (most of them clocking in under 2 minutes), of lo-fi, heavy buzz magic. Album opener, “The Sun was Proud” starts things off with upbeat tempos and doesn’t let up until around track 10 where we get a 59 second breather before Dean takes us to the electrifying conclusion of this fast and easy listen.
He has some of his catchiest tracks to date on this LP. “Cemetery Dance Off,”” Sky Dispatches,”” The Sun was Proud,” and “Objectivity is So What Was” are the cream of a real bumper crop.
Yep, there is not a bad track on The Astounds. Not surprising. Dean Wells rarely throws filler in his albums. There just is not enough time in his albums to slow things down with self-indulgent speed bumps. He keeps things light, spontaneous and most importantly, fun.
If you have been a fan of Dean Wells’ past bands, The Astounds will be a welcome addition to your collection. If you are not familiar with his work, fans of the lo-fi era Guided by Voices will eat this up. I highly recommend delving into The Astounds as well as the rest of his music. There is a lot to dig into, so get busy.
Key Tracks: “The Sun was Proud” / “Cemetery Dance Off” / “Objectivity is So What Was”
Artists With Similar Fire: The Capstan Shafts / Loud Springs / Guided By Voices
The Astounds Website
– Reviewed by Daniel Taylor