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The Dilettantes - 101 Tambourines

The Dilettantes, 101 Tambourines

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JOEL Gion will be fondly remembered by fans of the original Brian Jonestown Massacre or, more tellingly, the Dandy Warhols documentary Dig!, from which he emerged as the undoubted star.

Determined to rise above the self-destructive tendencies of BJM, and to prove himself more than just an expendable tambourine player, Gion has formed his own band, The Dilettantes, and boy do they rock.

Debut album 101 Tambourines reflects many of the qualities and influences that have helped to earn BJM such a cult following, while emerging as a credible force in their own right.

Kicking off with two belting dancefloor shakers that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Austin Powers movie, it’s clear that the focus is on retro hooks (circa Byrds, Stones and all things ’60s Britpop influenced), and lively vocals. Subterranean Bazaar, in particular, is a scuzzy romp that sends you into a spin of headrush proportions.

But the album works equally as well when slowing things down for efforts such as the psychedelia-laced, organ backed Brightly Lit New Dark Ages, a true shoegazer that’s a near-perfect comedown record.

Occasionally, Gion’s vocals disappoint and sound a little rough around the edges – but in most cases the excellent instrumentals more than compensate. Almost every song features some fantastic guitar work that’s dripping with melody and classic hooks; most of them tailor-made to be enjoyed in the sun.

Highlights include the “ba, ba, ba, ba”-laden, harmony filled The Whole World, with its thrilling tambourine based chorus, the lazy, hook-laden Like Crazy with its “all I want to do is look like crazy people do” chorus (a stoner classic in the making?), and the sparkling Marzipan, with its sparkling riffs and snappy backbeat.

Everlasting Low hints at Tom Petty vocally, while there’s an Oasis-style swagger to the rollicking guitar licks of Kiss & Run, a dancefloor filler of rousing quality. Come the feel-good, upbeat finale of What Were You Thinking you’ll probably be hailing The Dilettantes as your new favourite cult band of the moment.

Credit, then, to Joel Gion for proving that there’s so much more to his make-up than shaking tambourines and getting stoned. You’ll certainly dig the transition….

Download picks: Subterranean Bazaar, Brightly Lit New Dark Ages, The Whole World, Like Crazy, Marzipan, Kiss & Run, What Were You Thinking?

Track listing:

  1. Ready To Go
  2. Subterranean Bazaar
  3. Brightly Lit New Dark Ages
  4. Don’t You Ever Fall
  5. The Whole World
  6. You’re Gonna Need More Time
  7. Like Crazy
  8. Marzipan
  9. Never Go Without
  10. Everlasting Low
  11. Kiss & Run
  12. What Were You Thinking?