DID NOT! – DID NOT! – Album Review

Love the way the synths come in and the drums ramp up the energy on “My Reverie” as this song gets this DID NOT! album going from the middle of summer last year…and the way Bill Owens bends his vocal melody as the chorus comes in around a minute is pure Pop perfection.  Singing “those days still remember me” is a genuinely powerful moment that hits you right in the soul…we all think about how we remember this day or that day of our history, but I love that Bill has flipped the script to point out how we might make such an imprint on the calendar of our past that the days could equally remember US.  How cool is this guy?  I really dig so much of what Owens creates.  I’ll admit, he had me a bit worried for about ten or fifteen seconds as this song started up…the opening vocals are a little shaky and not quite reaching the melodic gold he’s capable of, but he recovers very quickly only moments later, rights the ship, and sails on to victory.  I’ll also say this…some folks love different words than I do, which seems strange I suppose, but when you’re writing with them all day, every day…I dunno…it seems like we’d have more in common sometimes.  I’ve never really gotten the attraction to the word ‘reverie’ – I wasn’t a huge fan when Kings Of Leon used it either, and that’s like, one of my wife’s all-time favorite songs so I hear it literally all the time.  Anyhow.  I’d tell ya my favorite word is ‘theatre’ – in the Canadian spelling – so what do I know anyway?  My word comes in less handy than reverie ever would, so there’s that.  Those synths have a very Numan-esque bend & brightness to’em…really liked what they added to this opening tune, and the drums have remarkable personality too…but for myself personally, that one lyric I’ve cited in quotes above really makes this song stand out to me…that’s a beautiful line there Bill.

Using a Zeppelin-esque acoustic guitar, an early-R.E.M.-influenced vocal pattern, a Strawberry Alarm Clock-like sound, with a bit of extra Motown backing vocals to fill in the gaps – “Photos In Journals” ends up being a genuinely neat song to listen to with how much it seems to borrow & incorporate from all over the music scene & its history.  Keep in mind, DID NOT! is a project that Bill started to revive many of the songs he wrote back in the 70s, so many of those comparisons actually come quite naturally.  All-in-all, I think he’s got a highly memorable main hook in using the title of this track within its main melody – “Photos In Journals” is probably the kind of song that’ll creep up on ya in the sense that you’ll likely retain the hooks of the verses in your mind long after the music stops playing and keep singing’em around the house.  The chorus is effective…but I think where we hear “Photos In Journals” pop up in the verses is actually the most significantly memorable use of it.  Quality tune though, all the way through.  Shout-outs to Bill’s musical cohort in DID NOT! – Mr. Matt “Wrecking Crew” Rendon plays most of the instruments as far as I understand it, which leaves Bill to focus more intently on bringing his character-laden vocals to the mic along with some keyboard parts to these tunes.  I don’t know where the backing vocals come from on “Photos In Journals” to be truthful, but I can tell ya they practically steal the show for me here…that’s an essential inclusion to this cut that seemed both unexpected, and entirely perfect.

Am I too much of a dick to like “Good Friends” as much as I should?  I’m not putting that out of the realm of possibility…that could indeed be the case, as much as I might try not to be.  Look…the execution is there, and that’s what ultimately matters.  I like that DID NOT! actually sounds really in the moment and into making this tune – there’s good energy here that’s sure to translate to the folks out there listening, and that’s pretty much all you can ever ask for.  “I think of you in many ways that your mother might not approve” is a genius line too…I freakin’ love that.  There’s definitely tangible 70s vibes that are in “Good Friends,” but you could very much argue that the roots of this song actually trace back even further towards the golden era of 50s/60s tunes at the end of the day.  Is it too friendly?  Am I just too sour?  I have a hard time pinning down why “Good Friends” wasn’t my favorite track given that so much of what we hear on it is going as right as it is…credit to DID NOT! y’all…take everything I’m saying with the proverbial grain of salt, there’s no reason that this couldn’t end up being your favorite track.

It’d be pretty impossible to miss Owens sounding much more like Jim Morrison than he usually does on “Couldn’t Do Any Better,” I think most people would pick up on that…and he sounds good.  All-in-all, I like how this tune moves in general…it’s got some mystery to it, some adventure…and really, it’s a fairly simple love-song when it comes right down to it.  I’m not gonna claim that this is my favorite track for Bill’s lyrics…I’ve heard too many great tunes from this guy to put this up there with the best of the best, but he’s focused, set his mind to the goal, and created the cut he wanted to create.  This is one of those spots where I’d probably say he’s buckled to that pressure all songwriters feel at times where they’re searching for that word that’ll fit the rhyme-scheme they’re working with, and settling for something that fits more-so than saying what we really want to say.  That being said, it’s really only when you’re listening to a track like this under the microscope that you might even notice that at all – for the most part, I think the people out there are simply gonna move & groove with this tune and its low-key Jefferson Airplane-esque type of vibe without really making too many bones of what the lyrics do or don’t do.  And rightly so y’all…that’s my job…to examine, to be critical, to encourage the scene to be at their very best at all times and/or reach for that next level…yours is simply to listen and enjoy, full stop.

With some Crosby, Stills, Nash, AND Young-esque vocals & harmonies, “Another You” is another tune that somewhat does what it does.  I absolutely love the instrumentation in the middle of this track around the 1:40-ish mark, and I genuinely dig on the low-key, dreamy vibe it’s got overall – there are some real positives to be found here.  Where I’d advise some caution to our good friend Bill, would be in that, as singers, once we get locked into a vocal pattern, we can often let the interest/energy drop in what we’re singing if we’re not too careful…it becomes tougher to remain engaged in a way that translates to the listening side if things we’re singing sound too compartmentalized, you follow me?  So you end up with something like “Another You” that ultimately hits the marks it’s looking to hit melodically, but seems much more distant when it comes to the connection between the lyrics & vocals.  It’s a delicate balance of course, and could get the best of anyone…but yeah…you don’t wanna be shown up by the backing vocals either if you can help it, and I feel like there’s a few moments where Bill let’s this performance actually get away from him a bit in that regard.  He’s still on-point tone-wise, but there’s something about “Another You” that doesn’t seem to have him as invested in it as we’d like to hear him.  That could possibly be subject matter if I’m being honest with ya.  In his other project, Blunt Objects, he’s really been creating a variety of material that seems to have brought the best out of him, and kept him actively interested in everything we hear.  “Another You” strikes me as the kind of tune he could fall out of bed and write…and the worry is that he’s allowed that to be enough, as opposed to challenge himself a bit more I suppose.  It’s pleasant, I’ll give ya that…but I know he’s capable of more.

Really great drumming in this project…that’s one of my favorite parts about DID NOT!, and I suppose the credit there once again goes to Matt.  “Love To You” is probably one of those tracks I didn’t expect to dig on as much as I did, but that’s the case and here we are – it’s pretty addictive.  Inoffensive and sweet, with hooks that are bright & shiny…more of a harmony-laden approach to the main vocals from start to finish…yeah…I’m inclined to give this one the ol’ thumbs up for sure.  It’s an interesting track in the sense that I’m not all that sure there’s a completely defining piece of it that makes it as memorable as we might want it to be, but it’s also the kind of song you’ll remember you heard when you hear it again.  Can music be both of those things at once?  I suppose it can dear readers, dear friends…or I wouldn’t have written that sentence beforehand and later justified it by debating it out loud here with myself.

“How Could They Know?” would be up there with my favorites on this particular record I think.  Smart moves being made on the bass without a doubt, great drums once again, solid lead guitar…but as with most of the cuts I love most in the Owens catalog of tunes in both bands, it really comes down to what he chooses to do with his voice & the hooks he finds on the microphone.  He puts in a really interesting performance on “How Could They Know?” that’s professionally controlled and equally engaging…you can tell he’s into this one, which is pretty much all I’m ever looking for from the guy.  Anything else is always a bonus.  There’s good rhythm in the way he sings “How Could They Know?” within this song, and I think the backing vocals supporting him set way in the distance were a really nice touch too.  With the sparkle of the guitars and the musings from Bill combined, there’s a lot about this track to love, and I like that Owens really explores his own vocal range & register throughout the course of singing this one.

Now who wants candy?  “Nobody’s Business” really reminds me of that hit-song “I Want Candy” in the way the music moves in the verses…and…well…if that’s your jam, congratulations – you’ll really dig this tune.  For me, it was about the saxophone added to this tune – that was a spectacular addition that brought things to life in the instrumentation and established the difference in the verses…and the chorus was decent too.  Listen to moments like what you’ll find around the 2:10 mark and the instrumental sections of this song…that’s where DID NOT! finds its biggest victories this time around.  I know I just spent my time talking about how it’s Bill that usually makes or breaks a tune for me when I was discussing the last track, but on this one, it’s practically the opposite…it’s the music that makes this song work, and there’s not a whole lot from Owens that’s really making too much of a contribution to “Nobody’s Business” beyond it.  He’s holding his own of course, there’s just not much standing out in comparison to the remarkable color to be found in the music and the charisma in the sounds we hear.

Giving ya more of that Jim Morrison-esque swagger on the mic, in tandem with the coolest bass-lines you’ve heard this side of Beck’s “Think I’m In Love” – “The Actor” ends up being a pretty rad experience and one of this record’s better tracks as well.  The saxophone really works well in DID NOT! overall, as do the backing vocals you’ll find in this project…but overall, I think “The Actor” really comes down to the rhythm section being as incredible as it is and the enigmatic lead performance from Owens on the mic.  There’s an array of reasons to dig on “The Actor” that highlight a lot of the reasons why you’d wanna like or love what DID NOT! creates as a whole…those throwback vibes for sure, but also the artistic dimension to what you’ll hear too.  It’s relevant stuff all-in-all…it might sound like it’s been stripped right out of the 70s era, but Owens and Rendon prove there’s a timeless element to this whole style they’re rocking with.  You’ll find no such complaints from me about “The Actor” – this track has got the groove.

“Too Much Between Us” almost has an old-school Heart-like feeling to its main guitar-lines, and I mean, we’d all be foolish not to dig on a sound as rad as anything that would remind us of that.  Overall, as a song…it’s a bit of a push/pull energy that I’m not as sure completely works…I feel like the music has a fierce bite to it, and to have it paired with vocals that are much softer in their demeanor might not have been what this particular cut was truly calling for.  The instrumentation is sharp from every angle though – there’s always something well-worth listening to in what DID NOT! does…I might still side with Blunt Objects being the more creative & artistic side of what Owens does in the music he makes and what appeals to me that much more, but you’ll always find plenty of things to dig in each of his projects; there’s plenty of merit to both.  “Too Much Between Us” has some good ideas, don’t get me wrong…I just felt like it wasn’t as much of a match made in heaven this time around…it felt like the music is calling for something different than what we get in the way Bill chooses to sing it.  Sometimes that happens, and what can ya do – it’s still an entertaining track overall.  As a child of the Grunge era, it is always tough for me to adjust to fade-outs; I grew up with them in the music I was exposed to of course, but yeah, they still seem strange to me now.

Now it’s the end…should’ve been sooner” – ha!  That’s how I generally feel about everything I write too Bill.  “Goodbye, Farewell” works well as an ending…I’m not feeling too much like I’m gonna rant and rave about it, but it’s not turnin’ me off either…if you dig on DID NOT!, I can’t see or hear why you wouldn’t dig on this as well.  The main hooks of “Goodbye, Farewell” are catchy…and the desolate feeling of the theme is a good contrast…Bill’s basically saying peace out, good night, and good luck to everything on Earth, which makes it kind of fun honestly.  Considering the fact he’s done anything BUT say goodbye with an onslaught of music that came out around the time this record did and after it – he might just have to follow this song with “Hello, Wassup” one day in the future for the sake of accuracy.  Bill finishes this record off on that tongue-in-cheek note of contrast in his songwriting that we love him for…and since this was released prior to other stuff I’ve already heard now, we know it’s not really goodbye.  Which is a great thing!  We need quirky characters like this guy out there in this music-scene we love and share…this man’s doing good work keepin’ ya entertained in DID NOT! and Blunt Objects.

Find out more about’em both at Bill’s official Instagram page:  https://www.instagram.com/blunt_objects_tucson

Find out what we do & how we do it at sleepingbagstudios, and be the next up on our pages by clicking here!



"I’m passionate about what I do, and just as passionate about what YOU do. Together, we can get your music into the hands of the people that should have it. Let’s create something incredible."

Send this to a friend