DWARF – It’s About Time – Album Review
If the sound of the lead-tune on It’s About Time by DWARF is any indication of what’s about to come at me here in my late-night listening…I’m about to fuckin LOVE LIFE. The opening-cut, “Misinformed” is nothing short of brilliant alt-indie/pop-rock bliss…there are no overly-rounded edges that take the rawness & gritty-distorted sounds away; it might not be perfect all-around technically, but it’s the kind of song that’s certainly perfect to me. DWARF sounds impressively REAL right off the bat and “Misinformed” has all the makings of a massive-hit song. Lead-singer Sage Donaldson immediately stuns with a perfect melody that really shines a bright-light on that spot-on blend of fragile-intensity within the emotion of her voice.
“You Know I Can’t Turn Left” has a few issues timing-wise but once again, there’s a song here. Sinking Sage back into the mix of the music would benefit this particular tune a little more…you can hear the comparison as the music hits the instrumental-section around two-minutes in and gets bigger & brighter for a moment. Had it been like that the whole way through, perhaps with Bailey’s bass brought up and a little more defined as well…I think DWARF would be onto another complete winner. They’ve already put on a rad display of impressive hooks in their song-writing…I’m still expecting great things.
Sage has a really fantastic understanding of how to add that final twist on a melody-line. She sounds sweet, young & full of venom & attitude on “Another Punk Song” – but most importantly you can truly hear there’s something special there in her voice that could potentially carry DWARF as far as a band can go. This track rips along with a power-pop/punk thrash & clever lyrics that drive the melody…but while the melody is written to deliver & do what it does, you’ll find that Sage twists each vocal-line with really smart instincts. All that being said…what the HECK is all this instrumentation that’s up in the middle of “Another Punk Song!?!” You guys are gonna get yourselves kicked out of the punk-pit if you keep funk’n it up like that you know guys…
And to that, I say whatever anyhow…don’t be a part of someone else’s circle, start your own! “In My Mind” is like…it’s like…it’s like I don’t quite know how to put just how long I’ve been waiting for a song/sound like this to come my way. Those that don’t know their music-history will have no problem likening what DWARF is doing on “In My Mind” to something similar or directly to Paramore…and while those people won’t be entirely incorrect – even Paramore would admit that those parts you’re hearing that make them comparable to DWARF are the parts that they themselves borrowed from the band Failure. And that’s what this track is like! I absolutely loved the guitars on this tune and their bright, chopped-out, tone-filled glory…very much in the Ken Andrews style that I personally love…actually a lot like the sound on his last solo-record outside of Failure overall with its amped-up melody.
I liked “West Coast” for its hooks…I think Sage rides the edge of her vocals to just short of a whine on this one…and with this being arguably one of the most accessible sounds they’ve put onto this record so far, it’s something she’ll want to be slightly careful of. Through the verse she sounds great…the chorus comes through nearly grating before it rides its final melody-line back into the music and into the groove of the verse. What I can hear…is definitely a stand-out performance from Bailey on the bass of this tune – and I also get the feeling from the lyrics that tells me I’m right in my suspicion that Sage is the exact type of person that is like…NEVER without her guitar and ALWAYS writing songs.
In one way or another – every song I’ve heard so far has the potential to generate a ton of interest out there…this is extremely strong material coming from this three-piece out of Arizona. The guitar-line of “Crazy” and its melody & overall energy remind me a lot of The Martinis (C’mon…Empire Records…anyone?) and K’s Choice…great grind of distorted-but-beautiful melody and a sincere performance from Sage on her vocals. Love the way Dom picks this one up towards the end with big drum hits as this tune rises up to its final moments.
“Witches” has like…what, three-intros before the vocals kick-in? Been doing this awhile now…you don’t come across that all that often! One of the most up-tempo cuts that infuses a heavier alternative-rock vibe into its mix, “Witches” rips by in just over three-minutes. Like a combination of sounds you’ll find in Fallout Boy, The Submarines and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…this song pounds out of the intros and straight through the rest until they’re all completely out of breath and fully-spent.
And while it seems that DWARF is edging towards a slightly darkened-sound with “Can’t Get Over You” – they pull off one of their most innovative combinations of bridge & chorus on the record so far. One of the most solid & captivating songs on It’s About Time due to its intense twists & turns and impressive structuring…this is fuckin fantastic…I am absolutely loving the energy, attitude and writing of this band. If you dig on the extreme-indie energy and Ritalin anthems in bands like Superchunk or Jimmy Eat World…you’ll love this stuff and especially cuts like “Capture Your Heart.” These rhythms and ideas of DWARF have a real raw-magic to them…I have every reason to follow my head, heart & gut here and believe that this band has potential beyond all our wildest expectations. They’ve yet to fail, yet to drop the ball remotely on this record and continue to change it up and captivate by switching up their sound just enough from song to song. “Trust Me It Sucks” has some of the best lyrics Sage has written on the album…these are absolutely perfect and her instincts on HOW to sing them is completely unique – she sounds fantastic, especially in the middle-verse and bridge of this tune. Another standout for the drums of Dominic Crooks and rubbery bass-line grooves of Bailey Stewart…the end of “Trust Me It Sucks” and the way the layers all come together…can’t say enough about it! Brilliant final line in the lyrics for Sage to bring it all home with…loved it.
If you wanna pick yourself up a sample of the awesomeness, you can cop yourself a download of “Brainstorm” for free off their site at Bandcamp. It represents them pretty well…it’s hard to say what I’d recommend as a substitute as a sample or introduction to DWARF…as much as I might like to say “Misinformed” – if the intention is to sell a few records, that’s not a song you can just give away! But “Brainstorm” is – there’s little to no harm in letting the people out there have this taste for free off the record…it highlights the melodic-side of the band and has a great uplifting-energy to the music contrasting with the sweet/jaded lyrics.
It took me until “Killer” for me to finally figure it out – but I think I’ve got the perfect comparison now. I’m thinking something like…Lisa Loeb on crack and rocking the fuck right-out. Melodies and intensely-bright energy like that which exists in songs like “Killer” are like musical-gravity in how they pull you right in and never let go. Perfect ending to this album – DWARF is a band I can firmly say I already love to listen to and I already can’t wait until I get another moment to spare on listening to It’s About Time – it’s rad as fuck.
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