REVIEW: The Dollar Bill Murrays Drop Meaty Rock In ‘Always On’ EP
If you’ve been clawing for some dirty, fuzzy, almost grungey alt-rock with just that little bit of indie flair, then in recent months, you might have been a little thirsty. Sure, rock in general is having a resurgence, but it’s either Violent Soho-esque or something like a Dune Rats or Skegss hitting your ear drums. You want something with a little more meat, without getting into the metal side of things, right? Thats where the Dollar Bill Murrays come in with the release of their sophomore EP, ‘Always On’.
Kicking off with some raucous tom-heavy drumming, The More You Know blasts the doors open on the EP. While the verse is somewhat restrained, the chorus builds quickly. There is more lo-fi thrash here than in a toddler’s room, post-tantrum. However, combined with some tight vocal harmonies that throw back to Franz Ferdinand and a lot of fuzzy guitar, the track is quite danceable and stands with one foot in the camps of indie and alt-rock. While the track is heavy on the guitar, it can be a bit overpowering in parts, with the bass especially forced to take a back seat on the rockin’ road trip.
We’re not sure what would happen if you hooked up ten guitar amps to each other and cranked the fuzz up on each one, but it would probably sound something like this track.
After only a short two-and-a-half minutes of guitar-splosions, you’re thrown into I Want Everything, a darker, slower track that takes its influence from another mid-00s British staple; The Arctic Monkeys. This time the tight, short vocal harmonies are swapped for more drawn out “Oooh”s, that, mixed with the duelling guitars and chugging bass line, create a tension throughout the whole track. The reverb-stacked guitar blends with the lyrical content of painful memories and failing love to give the impression of a heavy feeling coming back to haunt you. In the recording process, the band used oversized drums and some varied microphone techniques (Buck Nelson, anyone?) to provide a heavier, more impacting feel to their sound, and this really shines through in the huge, hit-it-hard moments, and tom fils throughout the track.
In My Head is the most down-beat of the five tracks on the release, and it takes the darkness of I Want Everything and doubles down on it. The chord work of the lead guitar has a certain shimmer to it, as it cuts through a dark tone set thanks to some moody effects on the rhythm guitar. An energetic drum beat sits in juxtaposition of the down trodden feeling, and gives some drive to the otherwise quiet track, and sets up for the eventual build up in the chorus. The darker, more quiet parts of the track are stellar, and would be some of the best on the whole release, mirroring something from Chris Isaak (when he was cool, and not on talent shows). These moments are punctuated with the signature loud chorus sounds, and in the outro, some more vocal harmonies blend with tight rhythm work to send the track off in style.
If you’ve ever wondered what the result of a Black Keys collaboration with AWOLNATION would sound like, firstly you’re a strange person who forgot to buy any calendars after 2011. But secondly, your questions are answered in Medicine, the fourth track on the release. Easily they heaviest and hardest hitting on the release, this track oozes with grandeur and fuzz. We’re not sure what would happen if you hooked up ten guitar amps to each other and cranked the fuzz up on each one, but it would probably sound something like this track. While the verses take it down a notch, it’s not a huge notch, meaning that this track only keeps building, and the mix gives everything a chance to shine. The guitar solo almost sounds out of place with its more delicate tones amongst the giant surrounding attack.
There are moments that really feel like big, brash, rock ’n’ roll statements, and some of the crescendos throughout the release are huge undertakings that would have every head in a venue banging.
The final track of the release, My Friend The Sky is the odd one out. Acoustic sounds permeate in this one, giving it a more haunting sound than the previous four tracks. An off-beat drum track sets an uneasy mood, and really puts you on edge, until you get that tension release in the chorus. This track takes a lot from a Queens of the Stone Age approach (perhaps most definitely in the title), albeit with a lot more atmospheric sounds. Instead of a consistent build throughout the track, My Friend The Sky brings it down in the back end of the song, before a sudden and brash crescendo in the final moments that close out the EP with a bang.
Overall, the EP is a winner. There are moments that really feel like big, brash, rock ’n’ roll statements, and some of the crescendos throughout the release are huge undertakings that would have every head in a venue banging. However, some of the mixing can come across as over powering, with various instruments being drowned out in various places. The oversized drums give impact where its needed, but at times, they can sound a little lost or out of place in the more intimate moments, where finesse would have been key.
The Dollar Bill Murrays are at their best when they’re more intimate and close, but not in that whispering in your ear way. They’ve done very well with the loud-soft dynamic changes between the verses and choruses, and at no point in the EP do you feel like any particular moment has dragged on too long, or that you’re one hundred percent sure of what is next to come. It’s all fresh, loud, big and surprising, with the right kinds of nods to sounds that you love, and that’s what this kind of rock should be.
Check out the video for The More You Know below, and scope out The Dollar Bill Murrays’ upcoming live dates!
The Dollar Bill Murrays Live Dates
SAT 06 MAY
The Zoo, Brisbane
SUN 07 MAY
Miami Shark Bar, Gold Coast
Tickets At The Door