DID NOT! – (Did So) – Album Review
All this back & forth I tell ya…DID NOT!, (Did So)…I mean…it sure seems and sounds like SOMETHING happened, can we all agree on that? Otherwise how did I get here? I only tend to show up in people’s lives when there’s music to be listened to…but I ain’t here to argue. Don’t tell me this record DID NOT! happen when it clearly (Did So) – I can see it clearly with my own eyes and hear it with my own ears y’all.
Oh how I like to kid around – did you pick up on that? You did? You saw what I did there? Alrighty then…it’s probably best I keep things moving along. We’ve got DID NOT! on our pages with an album that’s been filled with songs written years ago, being documented here at long last, before they’re forgotten. I’ve got love for that. I feel like I remember less and less by the day, so believe me, I totally get the race against time and trying to get everything done before it can’t be done no more. I also like the sound at work here too…it’s really not all that far removed from something I’d normally listen to. Like, ”Every Time I See You,” for example…the album’s opening track could be compared to something you’d find on the Empire Records Soundtrack, or like…something from The LA’s…or maybe early R.E.M. – all of which are A-OK with me and spun on the regular over here, I assure ya. Solid harmonies though, and a stellar, endearing Indie vibe to be found on “Every Time I See You.” I don’t feel like complete & total perfection is the goal, so much as getting these songs out into the world where they truly belong. So you end up with this like, perfectly imperfect style of tune, which has kind of been the theme around this corner of the internet as of late…and what can I say besides it’s a style of music that resonates with me. I find the remarkable amount of humbleness in a song like “Every Time I See You” totally appealing.
Plus like…c’mon y’all…don’t tell me you listen to the sound of the guitars starting out “Hole In My Head” and somehow don’t feel that rad energy rip through ya. I’m all about it…this is a wicked combination of energy, janglin’ guitars, great vocals, rhythm and groove that can’t be denied…all packed into a short cut that’s less than two-minutes long. The vocal hooks of “Hole In My Head” easily rival the ones from the music and vice versa…the balance is pretty much impeccable. You’ll find no complaints from me here on this cut…the rhythm section is firing on all cylinders, the harmonies are freakin’ SPECIAL…DID NOT! seems ready to supply the Alt-Pop/Rock energy in a way that’s got that like, Lemonheads-meets-Dandy Warhols like swagger to it. It’s not overtly complex or anything pretentious – it’s the magic energy of the spirit of Rock and what happens naturally when you crank those amplifiers up to make some music.
I’m always interested in tracks that were written way back in the day, survive throughout the years, and end up finally being recorded…mainly because more often than not, it rarely makes sense to hang on to too much. I listen to “All Of My Books” and think to myself, this is one of those times…it’s equally okay to let go too y’all…sometimes there’s a reason things don’t end up getting their moment when you think it’s supposed to happen…sometimes that’s a blessing. I could beat around the bush here…I could point out the fact that the music is just about as stellar as it has been so far…or I could go into the fact that Did Not! has had X-amount of time to really perfect a track like this, and it still needs a bit more time in the incubator. Mostly in the vocal department this time around…the hooks could perhaps use a bit of sharpening too…some of the music seems to feel a bit looser than it’s likely intended to be when it’s at the most intense moments…none of this makes it a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, just a song that still seems perplexing as to why it would be kept in the back pocket throughout the years and not simply let go of. Why hang on to a decent tune when there are amazing tracks still waiting to be written, and clearly Bill Owens and Matt Rendon are more than capable of doing that instead? We form strange attachments as human beings and creators of art…I’m that objective voice that’s here to say it’s alright to let some things fade away. “All Of My Books” is a good tune…but it’s hard to conceive that it had the opportunity to be a great one. They know it too though…and that’s just the thing; they can feel the difference in the way the first two tracks came out in comparison to the third, and we know that’s the truth because it’s the kind of difference that we can hear on the other side of the speakers, 100%.
Some things work out insanely cool. Like, the bass-lines on this record have been nothing short of amazing the whole time, and that remains the case on “20th Century,” along with the seriously wild ideas they’ve got goin’ on in the guitars too. Somewhere in the middle of stuff like Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Verve Pipe, you’ll find a track like this one exists to keep ya entertained, and you’ll find no objections from me on that. Smart harmonies, solid hooks, quality songwriting…most, if not everything, comes together as you’d wanna hear it. I wrestle a bit with the lead vocals…they’re on-point tone-wise this time around, which is good…but I do kind of want that same level of energy you tend to hear in the backing vocals up front just as much…and I’m not sure I hear that same level of confidence, though I do like the sound. Lots of great stuff to listen to still…and you can add in The Animals in as another comparison that’s somewhat justified…DID NOT!’s rocking with throwback sound, but they’re owning it. You’ll find they sound more like something you’d expect from The Kinks on “Hammer” right afterwards, or maybe even Donovan…but all true to the era and sound they’re aiming at for sure. Lots of cowbell goin’ on if you dig that…great guitar solo on “Hammer” too…it’s not a whole lot more complicated than your average Green Day song in many ways, but it’s punked-up rock’n’roll fun that’s not meant to be anything more than a real good time. It’d be hard to argue “Hammer” doesn’t nail its true ambitions.
I’d definitely cite “Here’s Looking At Me” as one of those tracks that probably couldn’t have gone any better than it has…this is pretty much as flawless as a track could ever be, and comes complete with a brilliant concept that tackles vanity & our sense of self-importance head-on. I love the vocals from the lead to the background, I think the music is absolutely killer…guitars, bass, drums…everything you’ll hear is crushin’ it to the nth degree on “Here’s Looking At Me” – but more-so than anything else, I felt like DID NOT! found lyrics and hooks that really exceeded every possible expectation here. No joke folks, “Here’s Looking At Me” is probably way more addictive than I’m even giving it credit for, and I have basically already put GROOVES into the DIGITAL copy of this song, you feel me? In my opinion, you can’t help but dig on a track like this one…”Here’s Looking At Me” has it all…rhythm, melody, swagger, charm – it’s a shining example of what great music is really all about. And am I getting this line right – “I don’t want to love you, I just want you to love me?” – because that dear readers, dear friends, is truly brilliant.
Embracing more of that Punk spirit to fuel the energy of “Kamikaze Lovers” – I’ll admit, I felt like this track had one of the toughest spots to fill on (Did So) because it comes right after one of my favorite tunes. I’m not discounting its potential impact though…I feel like the way that DID NOT! plays it still gives “Kamikaze Lovers” a solid chance of finding an audience to play it loud and proud…it might be YOUR favorite song on the record, and if it is, right on – high five from me. Like I said, they play this track like their lives depend on the results, and I feel like any time you do that, you put yourself in a position where you’re only ever battling the personal taste of people out there. I might like a track like “Here’s Looking At Me” better, and you might like “Kamikaze Lovers” more – and we’re both right to feel the way we do. DID NOT! did what they needed to do, and committed to every single second of what we hear…I still like it myself, just not as much as I liked the track that came right before it is all.
“Megalomaniantics” is not just an exceptional new word that should definitely be included in the official dictionary as of the release of this record, but thematically, it’s a not-too-distant cousin of a song like “Here’s Looking At Me” too. So you see what I’m saying folks? No disrespect to “Kamikaze Lovers” – the reality for the ears on MY head, simply comes down to the fact that on either side of that tune, are tracks I like even more. Is that MY fault? I didn’t write’em! DID NOT! happened to out-do itself in a few spots…and in my opinion, that’s kind of a nice problem to have, ain’t it? I like a bit more Pop in my Rock, and that’s exactly what you get in tracks like “Here’s Looking At Me” & “Megalomaniantics” – plus, conceptually, these cuts are straight aces y’all. The writing is stellar, the vocals on each cut would easily be in the running for some of my favorites on the record…the execution all-around is pure perfection. I dig the endless string of questions in the words…I dig how that makes for a track that’s every bit as thought-provoking as it is entertaining when you dig right into this, you follow me? DID NOT! proves to be quite clever when they’re at their best, and I feel like the writing in both “Here’s Looking At Me” and “Megalomaniantics” gives us an excellent glimpse into just how smart they can be when they wanna be. I also love the sound of the guitars on “Megalomaniantics,” it’s very College-Rock-meets-Kids In The Hall.
“A Kind Of Imbalance” probably meets a compromise between a couple of worlds in its own way. They flash some real significant chops in how they play this track…and while there are definitely hooks that the average everyday listener will still easily be able to attach themselves too, the musicians out there are quite likely to dig this song too. DID NOT! earns respect and street cred for their instrumentation here…I suppose that’s what I’m getting at. Not that they didn’t deserve it already if you’ve been paying close attention…I’m just saying it’s on display more noticeably within this particular song, especially right where you’d least expect to find it – in the hooks! Imagine that will ya? I’m all about it. I think we tend to assume that the chorus is always going to provide the most significant moments of accessibility, but that’s not always the case – and what better time to prove that’s the case than on a song called “A Kind Of Imbalance!” I told ya…DID NOT! is damn clever when it comes right down to it, and they’re putting their tunes out with a real dry humor to them that I can appreciate. Not every track is filled with humor or needs to be, but when they wanna flex that particular gear they’ve been finding very credible success.
What did I tell ya about that bass though yo! Good gravy-boat lighthouse y’all – “She’s A Screamer” will supply ya with a groove solid enough it’ll last ya straight through to 2024. At ninety-seconds in total, I’m not gonna be the guy to say it’s the most consequential cut you’re gonna find on (Did So), but I will most certainly vouch for it being a heck of a lot more kickass than you’d probably expect in such a short timeframe. Something like you’d expect in a cross of Beck and The Beatles, played with the ferocity of The Ramones…”She’s A Screamer” ends up being a riotous amount of unrelenting fun and Punk/Pop vibes that moves quick to say the least. Hot enough to melt your speakers, “She’s A Screamer” has that perfect addition of melodic keys on the top of the surface of what you hear, which admittedly, moves at a much slower pace that’s damn near almost deceptive…the rest of this cut is played at lightning speed.
“Just One Chance” seems like it’s one of the deeper cuts on the record. I’m not opposed to it entirely, but I don’t know that I’m convinced they got everything they needed to out of its potential either. I find myself feeling pretty similar towards this one as I do about “All Of My Books” from earlier on in the set, but leaning towards “Just One Chance” as being the better of those two particularly more questionable cuts. What I do love about “Just One Chance” is definitely found in the guitar tones…that’s actually some really quality work being done on the axe, and notes that’ll practically chill your blood. The bass is a given…that’s been remarkably locked in throughout this entire record, so that’s clearly a win once again. Beyond that, and again, similarly to “All Of My Books,” I really do dig the extra seriousness & drama that the ideas seem to come with. Execution-wise, I’m not all that sure each track lives up to its true potential, but I do like where things could potentially be headed. It’s all about the time and experience we get with any given tune we ever play…maybe it’s not quite as well rehearsed, maybe it’s a newer song in the set overall…there are still many positives – like the guitar solo around the 2:20 mark for example…but yeah…something about “Just One Chance” felt like it still needs a bit more polish to it.
To finish off the record, “It’s A Game” ends (Did So) on the right notes and a conclusive finale. I like records like this that are like a good speech, you know? We feel that finality of it all…we know that it’s over, and we don’t expect more. I felt like the percussion and harmonies were a big part of the reason as to why this last track worked out as well as it did…the lyricism tand vocal melody overall…there’s a whole lot to this final cut that could potentially be overlooked because of its more delicate sound. I’m hearing it though…I think this ends up being quite a beautiful tune…bittersweet to a degree, but no matter how you slice it, there’s a real authenticity to this whole idea that connects in a very endearing way. You might not have thought they’d go there, but DID NOT! (Did So) – feel free to quote me on that. Hopefully Bill and Matt decide to get back in the studio & see what another chapter of this collaborative effort could sound like…this record really worked out well for them for the most part, and I’d definitely be interested in hearing what the two of these guys would create here in the present now that they’ve dealt with the past and gotten these tunes out there. Clearly, they’ve both still got plenty in the tank, a sound that certainly works wonders, and a high level of passion & desire to make music we can all hear.
Keep up with the music Bill Owens of DID NOT! is making at his official page at Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/user-66925869
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