What I Missed In 2016: The Dean Ween Group’s Happy-Inducing Deaner Album

The Dean Ween GroupThe Deaner Album

Since I launched this blog in March, I have tried to write about as many wonderful things as I can, in essays, the podcast, and every Friday in the New Release Roundup. Try as I might, I can’t write about all the good stuff coming out. This will be my annual attempt to correct that. For the next ten days, I’ll be highlighting albums I missed in 2016. To cast an even wider net, I’ve enlisted some talented friends to write about some of their favorites this year. You can read that here.

I do love when I can write about an intersection between two or more of the main subjects of this site – music, comedy, and horror. And any Ween-related project is going to have an offbeat sense of humor. There is misdirection from the start. Who would expect a spot-on early Allman Brothers tribute on a Dean Ween Group album? But that’s what you get on “Dickie Betts,” an instrumental jam that captures Betts’s winding, melodic guitar style perfectly. And there’s no better way to follow that up than with a tribute to a “douchebag” on a bike called “Exercise Man.” If you need a consistent style or feel throughout an album, this isn’t the music for you. There’s riff-heavy rock (“I’ll Take It And Break It” and “Charlie Brown”), more melodic rock (“You Were There”) and bluesy guitar features (“Doo Doo Chasers”), interrupted by the occasional jaunty instrumental like “Shwartze Pete,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a silent comedy, or something funky like “Mercedes Benz.” Sometimes Dean just wants to shout like a demented person about how much he likes gum on… well… “Gum.”

The cohesiveness comes partly from the attitude that whatever this band plays, they lay into it with enthusiasm. So bring on whatever’s next. Sludgy, punky, strange. Whatever. They’ll play it like the pit band for some absurdist musical. There’s also that sense of humor much of this music projects. Not everything is played for laughs, but there’s a lot to make you smile. Even when playing some big, fat guitar riff that makes you want to bang your head, it feels like the band is parodying rock god swagger while also pulling it off marvelously. They stuff a lot of fun into these fourteen tracks. They’re also on tour now, and this music is going to make for an invigorating show.

“Mercedes Benz”

“Exercise Man”


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