DID NOT! – Yeah, You Did…

 DID NOT! – Yeah, You Did…

DID NOT! – Yeah, You Did… – Album Review

I feel like I always end up rushing to comment on new records by Bill Owens’ other band, Blunt Objects, and as a result, end up leaving DID NOT! off to the side until I’m good & ready to have a listen.  It’s not like I sit here dreading the music I’ll be hearing…it’s nothing like that at all.  I know that Blunt Objects tends to be a project that bears a bit more appeal to myself personally, I’ll concede that much, but considering good ol’ Bill is at the helm of DID NOT! as well, it’s not like I can’t find my way into this band too, know what I mean?  I think it’s my natural reaction to the past versus the present.  Blunt Objects is all current for the most part, whereas DID NOT! ends up reworking tracks from back in the past, and it usually sounds that way.  Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve read these pages of ours for more than a minute, you know I’m a fan of music from every corner of our history & that it really doesn’t matter what era it’s from as long as I can turn it UP…but that being said, I tend to gravitate more towards whatever is happening now as opposed to whatever was happening then.  I suppose that’s just me.

Anyhow!  DID NOT! has got a brand-new record filled with older material polished up for the right here & now, and it’s called Yeah, You Did… in true Bill Owen’s signature title fashion.  It opens up with a very Classic Rock riff type-tune, “I’m Not Going To Do It Any More” – which is actually quite the interesting way to start a record.  Essentially, we’re talkin’ about contrast & nuance at work in a first dose…which is a brave move in today’s world.  Contrast in the sense that, you’ll find the sound of the song would have most people believing that DID NOT! is about to take’em right into Classic Rock party-mode…yet if you have a listen to the words, you’ll probably conclude otherwise.  Nuance in the sense that, you can’t always take Bill’s laundry list of complaints to be the main thing that he’s trying to say…there’s always more to it than that, and so remains the case with “I’m Not Going To Do It Any More.”  If anything, you could probably consider this song to be a complaint against complainin’ and you can hear that Owens is actually doin’ his level best to leave all that behind, hence “I’m Not Going To Do It Any More.”  At least that was my interpretation…like a great many of his tunes, there’s much more than one way to hear’em.  In any event, between the simplified recipe of bass, drums, and guitar, with the addition of some truly great backing vocals, this is a real winner overall…this first cut is a real people pleaser without a doubt.

Impossible not to notice the energy immediately shift as “Terribly Blue” starts up, which ends up being another somewhat risky move early on in the set-list.  Bill just had everyone up on their feet ready to dance the night away, and then takes you into a downbeat song that’s closer to something you’d hear from Cass Elliot’s catalog.  It’s a well-written tune with yet another excellent display of backing vocals that make a real impact, and it’s actually filled with sweet sentiment at its core.  A lot of it requires some seriously low-end register in the vocals…which, while that’s kind of where you’d hear Bill’s natural speaking voice, is still a tougher gear to sing in a sea of low tones.  He holds his own…I wouldn’t say that it’s the strongest performance I’ve heard from the man, but it’s not a bad one by any stretch…just seems to need a bit of oomph or a bit more power to get the vocals involved to the degree that the music is.  I do like the song though…part of me kept waiting for him to shift into some kind of glitzy chorus and start proclaiming that you should “Make Your Own Kind Of Music,” but “Terribly Blue” never goes that far.  It’s a quaint tune at the end of the day…a love-song that’s simply honest and direct with its sweetness.

Somewhere right around the transition between the mid-late 60s into the early 70s, you’d find a track like “Chameleon Boy” thriving for sure.  Here’s where you’d find comparisons to stuff like Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Animals, or even The Monkees to a degree…shiny Pop songs that essentially hid a deeper substance in behind it all.  Like, I freakin’ love the way the guitars sound in this song, which would be played by Matt Rendon who “plays almost everything” according to the liner notes.  I’ll admit, it was the title/hook of this song that I was never really sold on…it SOUNDS great when you hear it in a very traditional sense of songwriting and I’d be the first to admit that, but it also seemed like the kind of hooks & hippied-out vibe that you’d rarely find Bill venture into today.  It is what it is really…I think we’re all bound to make the kind of music we grew up listening to and/or had been surrounded by as well…which is very much the reason that the whole scene continues to move in a cyclical motion.  Does it fit?  Does it suit him?  Actually, yeah…it does.  It might not be my favorite…I felt like the hooks was a bit too easy for the man, or maybe the song relied upon it a bit too much somehow…but as far as the execution is concerned, things come out sounding great for DID NOT! in the early tracks of this album.  Highly varied between the first three vibes you’ll find overall, but everything is on solid ground sound-wise.  Compliments to the men behind the boards…Matt is mixing, and Jim Waters is mastering for ya.

“All Hung Up” was a fun one to examine.  For myself personally, I think there are pieces of this track that are absolutely outstanding and make for a completely exceptional listen…but I was less convinced that every piece belonged together – you ever feel that way?  I think what I ended up liking and appreciating the actually, were the transitions in this song.  As soon as it begins, I love the sound of the verses, and I love the backing vocals that come along with it…but then hearing this song seem to stop for a moment, brace itself, and pivot into a more upbeat energy was even more enticing, even if I didn’t particularly love the chorus itself.  After that, the exit from the chorus, right around the minute-mark, you’ll find one of the most incredible moments on the record so far, and the eventual slide back into the verses was nearly just as stunning later on down the road.  I’m almost shocked that we don’t find DID NOT! repeating what we hear in the backing vocals/instrumentation between 0:55 to 1:25…it’s practically a crime that they DON’T, because that dear readers, dear friends, is what the magic of music sounds like.  For a song that’s all about confusion and toiling inside thoughts, feelings, and emotions, “All Hung Up” ends up being more fun than you’d probably assume it would be…all-in-all, I ended up feeling like this was probably my favorite of the first four cuts on the pure strengths of that magical moment I’ve cited.  Sometimes a mere moment can make an entire song…as to how you avoid exploiting it, I do not know.

I felt like you get a great performance from Bill in his vocals on “Rendezvous Lovers.”  As a song, it’s a bit on the meat & potatoes side of things…very Classic Rock-Pop with a tinge of early Punk at its core, but the execution & quality in the performance is nothing short of stellar.  Make no mistake y’all, sixty years ago, “Rendezvous Lovers” is basically an instant hit and a license to print money.  It’s basically impossible not to take that for granted now that we’ve all heard so many comparable tunes…but back in the day, a track like this would have completely stood out from the crowd.  Doesn’t mean it ain’t great to listen to now…like – listen to the way Matt lights up the solo in this tune before the final chorus run through for example…that’s always gonna be rad to listen to, doesn’t matter what era you come from.  The energy in this cut works…the performances are top shelf…it’s built on a classic recipe that is tried, tested, and true…but to be fair to “Rendezvous Lovers,” that’s where the song had originally come from.  I’d probably be looking at this track as a potential single to put out there though…it’s an enticing vibe.

Good gravyboat lighthouse!  “I’m OK You’re OK” would definitely be a wildly interpretative tune, and it’s definitely the kind of cut that’ll get you raising an eyebrow or two.  It’s got that solid jangly/shiny guitar sound that is always golden to listen to, the transitions in the music are great, the backing vocals also hit mark…Bill does a stellar job in singing this song as well.  It’s another interesting cut because it’s got so many stellar elements shared across the board.  You’ve got one of the most confident moments you’ll find from Owens as he attacks the finale, transitions that are guaranteed to get people listening through the dynamics of the music, and memorable hooks to go along with the uniqueness of the lyricism here.  I found “I’m OK You’re OK” was the kind of cut that took me longer to appreciate, but once I got there, I started to come around to thinking this might be one of the record’s better tunes.  They come straight out of the gate to take this song on, and you can feel the confidence in the material through the way that they perform this tune.  The rhythm section is ON-POINT throughout this whole cut, and ultimately, I would think that the results in the finale of “I’m OK You’re OK” is the real clincher…it sounds fantastic.

They continue rolling with upbeat energy into a dreamier vibe on “Skyshades,” where you’ll find one of the most memorable moments in any DID NOT! song to-date in the chorus of this tune.  At first I was thinking there was gonna be too many “Oooooooohs” and “La Las” in this track for my personal taste, but I ain’t hatin’ on this…it works really well.  “Skyshades” has a stunning Rock melody at its core, great guitars…and yeah…honestly I think this track speaks volumes on its own behalf.  Like…they ain’t gonna throw away a chorus like that…you’d be crazy to toss a hook so strong and entirely memorable.  When Bill hits that line of “dance me a picture of you,” we feel the magic of the moment, every single time.  I’m a big fan of this song, and I’m really enjoying this more energetic side of Bill’s vocals.  What I’m hearing in the chorus of this track is the very definition of universal…you can practically hear some kind of massive musical production working this track into their show, or seeing it in that pivotal scene that makes the whole movie.  “Skyshades” for the win so far I think…that’s just an irresistible chorus y’all.

In direct contrast, “Everybody Wants To Be Me” is a track that probably should have been hotly debated as to whether or not it makes the record…I’m very much on the fence about it.  Several reasons…and yes, I know it’s a song that’s just over two-minutes, but hear me out.  Bill’s a bit rigid in some spots of this cut, and almost seemed to make things more difficult when they didn’t need to be melodically at times, which ended up feeling a bit uneven in the natural metering, or something along those lines.  And how about the MAIN hook of this song?  Don’t get me wrong – it sounds stellar!  Where IS it?  In the last ten seconds of “Everybody Wants To Be Me!”  How that wasn’t added in more along the way, I do not know…if you’re thinking of this as a track that would be played live for instance, it’s that last ten seconds they’re gonna want to sing along with.  Surprising to not find it in there more!  So you get where I’m goin’ with this…there’s some good stuff and some more questionable moments too.  Same thing on the music end this time around as well…I didn’t always love the guitars on this track, though the bass was incredibly well-played – listen to the musicianship just past the first minutes, Matt’s slayin’ it.  But yeah, overall, I think I gotta call things as I hear’em…this track fell a little short despite having the brilliant line of “but if you were me and I were you…I’d wanna be you” – I love that.  Seriously – you read that lyric over again right now, and you recognize the mastery of the craft at work!  That’s a really damn good line there Mr. Owens, yes indeed!  It’s got plenty of redeeming qualities…don’t get it twisted, I still like it.

“Reno” brightens-up the record in such a noticeable way coming after “Everybody Wants To Be Me,” like…you couldn’t possibly miss it.  I dig the playfulness it has in the bounce of the verses, and I’d say the most tangible hooks are found in them as well.  All-in-all, “Reno” is kind of an ordinary tune played in an extraordinary way – make sense?  It’s got a showmanship-like flair to it when you’re listening closely, right on the border of a somewhat theatrical type of performance at times.  While it’s got a throwback vibe to it for sure, it’s the kind you’d find out there in the scene today throughout the Indie Rock scene.  The hook you’ll find when he sings “when the rip tides” come is another key moment that pulls us in.  I gotta admit, sometimes it’s almost strange that we don’t find many of Bill’s most remarkable hooks more often that we do.  It’s like…you’re hearing this the same way we are Owens – I know you are!  So why you being so stingy with the hooks bro?  It’s a big win for the verses over the chorus in this particular track for me, but its all-around pleasant sound that’s probably going to have no problem securing a victory in the court of public opinion.  Then of course, when they really start digging into this tune and hear the lyrics, I’d reckon they’ll realize there’s a whole lot more goin’ on underneath this song’s sunshiny sound.  Another wildly interpretive song that would definitely have people debating what Owens was getting at…and asking who “Steve” was…and like…I mean…are you taking Steve’s lady-friend Bill?  Is that what’s happening here?  “Reno” will get you thinking about what’s what, indeed.

Short bursts on this record more often than not, it feels like…”Just Pass Me By” was another track in the realm of two-minutes.  It works though…I don’t think “Just Pass Me By” is all that complex in its design for these two veteran music-makers, but I don’t mean that in a derogatory way…more in that “I won’t be asking for more” type of way that suggests it really has everything it needs.  Like…you know how human beings have that like…’daily recommended dose’ of vitamins & whatnot, and that’s what we’re aiming to hit for our peak performance?  This song is that.  So when the biggest detriment to a track is that it’s not necessarily pushing things forward for music, or perhaps even for the album it on, is that something we’re supposed to hold against a song that’s flawlessly played?  “Just Pass Me By” is another track that took a spin or two before I felt like I got to the real magic of this rhythm & groove combo.  For me, it actually occurs when you hear Bill sing a simple line – “you know?”  Understand that it ain’t gonna be the hook for everyone, but for a whole lot of Canadians out there that loved what Gord Downie used to be like, you’ll recognize that afterthought-esque moment of brilliance flashing in that spot for sure.  In any event, by the time I got around to writing this, I felt like I’d put this track up there with some of the record’s best…it took a bit of convincing…but once I got it, I got it…and now it’s basically irresistible to me.  Call me crazy if ya like, but “Just Pass Me By” feels like that song you’ve heard in a variety of ways in other incarnations, but never really have at all when you dig right into it.  It becomes seriously addictive.

“I Know What You’re Doing” was a track that I think was still trying to figure out where its true powers were, and I think the reaction to this song could be about as mixed as the way this seems to sound.  It’s a lot like hearing one of those tracks that have a split-personality thing goin’ on…there’s a fun side, and a serious side…and depending on where you’re at in the song, you might find you like one or the other that much better for a second or two.  Like, the bright & cheerful part goin’ on is another fairly universal vibe for sure…but c’mon y’all…that transition into the melody of that one line “I see you” is something else to experience – it’s the serious side of this song that seemed to be sound that was working for me.  In that sense, if we’re talking about the strength of that hook…or a couple of other honorable mentions here for that matter…listening to this track reminded me of what it is I look for when I’m listening to The National.  Different styles to a large degree overall, though there are many similarities to be found in “I Know What You’re Doing.”  For me, it’s never been about expecting The National to get everything right either…it has always been about finding that one moment that knocks it straight outta the park into next weekend.  “I Know What You’re Doing” has that in the “I see you” / “You, Me, Who?” hooks.  When Bill’s singing “I know what you’re doing, I know what you’re doing, I know what you’re doing, I know what you’re doing, and I know what it’s doing to me,” it’s a close second place…both these spots are spot-on.  I appreciate the quality in one half of this cut’s personality, and the other I’m straight-up mesmerized by.




I’m like…damn near afraid to write down my thoughts about “Rough One” in fear that it says more about me, you know what I mean?  I gotta watch myself for projection here…but like…BILL – you sly devil you – I KNOW what you’re singing about!  And to be truthful good sir, I don’t think I’ll be alone in that for anyone out there that’s having a quality listen.  When you start a song with a line like “You ask me to spank you when you’re bad” – people turn their heads to listen and see if they just heard what it is they thought they heard.  Spoiler alert – you did!  So like…hmm…when you end up in a line like “You take all deliveries to the rear” not too long afterwards…it’s like, oh we’re doin’ BUTT STUFF now, and you practically have no choice but to assume that given that this song has gone the sexual route from the very first moments.  Right after all the deliveries goin’ to someone’s derriere, he’s got the line “You’re not happy ‘til you’re all in tears” – which suggests that he knows this, after having achieved it.  He’s at the least witnessed it.  You get the idea.  I’m just sayin’ that I don’t think I’ve induced tears between the sheets, so I’m probably doin’ it wrong, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  Anyhow.  That’s the price I pay for having a schlong that resembles Cyril Sneer’s nose…there’s a solid Canadian reference for ya to enjoy, feel free to look that up.  It’s a naughty little ditty, but “Rough One” is taken perfectly seriously in the recording, so that most of the joke is on us…we end up singing songs like this out loud wherever we are, because it’s memorable on several levels.  I don’t know what Matt’s got goin’ on with his guitar in this tune, but he’s got some absolutely killer chops on display throughout “Rough One…he sure puts a lot into playing “almost everything,” and the effort has not gone unnoticed my friend.  I reckon this is the very definition of cheeky…and you know something?  I.  Am.  Here.  For.  It.

Give Bill credit y’all…this dude has tried so many things, not just on this record, but his other DID NOT! records, his albums as Blunt Objects, and so many other things throughout his career.  “Thanks A Lot” is an exercise in sarcasm, with an odd sound…I feel like this might be another track that will take a spin or two to get adjusted to it.  You can’t help but dig that BASS at the start of this track, but it’s tougher to be sold on the nearly robotic performance that Bill adds to the opening verse.  That being said, there are undeniable hooks here too…I don’t know if that’s backing vocals or synthetic keyboard vocals cleverly placed into the verses – that’s got massive appeal…and while again I’d cite something similar to how the Tragically Hip did things when it comes to the chorus & say you might need to be Canadian to get just how exceptional that is…hopefully y’all will get it just as much as all of us north of the border would.  Bill’s out there in Arizona somewhere in Tucson…so someone out there inherently or instinctively gets the quintessential Canadian sound in the USA, clearly…that’s at least one and maybe one day we’ll have too.  Tiny little country that we are…cute ol’ Canada just trying to keep up all the time.  Aww!  I digress.  “Thanks A Lot” ended up convincing me there’s greatness in this track, mainly found in the chorus, the quality of the musicianship, the cleverness in the background elements, and grippingly venomous lyrics that pull no punches while still leaving so much open to interpretation.  It’s a bit edgier than we tend to hear from Owens in either of his main projects as DID NOT! and Blunt Objects, but that really seemed to get something great out of him on this track.  It’s a strong chorus over verse win, and that’s OK with me.

LIGHTEN-UP and don’t git yer panties in a bunch as you listen to “Somebody To Love” – because some of y’all out there are probably endlessly seeking the slightest reason to overreact.  Some of these descriptions of the lady in this track sound a bit on the harsh side, and I get that – but I also get that there are all kinds of people on this planet, and Owens has chosen to write about one of’em.  So to me, you can’t get offended by describing a woman like “got a crew cut, chews tobacco, has a 5 o’clock growth on her face” when someone, likely several someones out there, would look like that!  I know you’re tempted keyboard warriors, but just hang on for a minute and let me continue to talk some sense into ya…we can’t get offended by descriptions of what people look like etc.; it’s only our choice if we do.  Bill doesn’t push it too far over the line in that regard anyhow, but you do get a real picture of what this person looks like throughout the course of “Somebody To Love,” who sounds like they could easily beat the tar outta me and take my lunch money.  “Just another person looking for somebody to love.  8 billion people on Earth gonna find somebody to love” – that ain’t bad sentiment, and it ain’t untrue either!  I felt like DID NOT! achieved another moment of major impact with the chorus in this cut.  I dig the lyricism in the verses, but I didn’t really love the music along with it…it’s a bit on the standard side this time around, not to sound too much like a snob.  I mean, I’m just being fair – the chorus is outright exceptional and carries the majority of the weight of the song…and when you get a solo like you get from the skillful musicianship of Matt Rendon slidin’ right INTO the chorus, it makes it all the sweeter.  I dunno…maybe I’m immature, maybe I’m behind the times, but Bill had me laughing with the lyrics on this track…he’s simply saying that there’s a person out there for everyone, and he does it in a great way.

“Tomorrow Is Another Day” was a decent final slice of sound to finish off this fifteen song set.  Great bass on this tune once again…the low-end makes a huge impact on pulling us into this song, especially as the chorus breaks.  Kind of has those slick tones you’d find in a track like “Think I’m In Love” by Beck, which again, is A-OK with me…it’s just a kickass level of controlled coolness; that’s always welcome here.  Guitars chime in at all the right spots.  As for the keyboards…ha!  I don’t know what to tell ya.  Part of me suspects that they know they’re a bit over the top in a way, and part of me feels like they fearlessly celebrated that fact as they played this song.  Like, they just went with it…modulated it all out & all kinds of madness goin’ on there, but it’s the confidence of even putting it in there that kind of makes it as rad as it is.  Would I think “Tomorrow Is Another Day” would be stronger without it?  No.  Not necessarily.  I’m saying something more along the lines of that the song would have still existed, and probably been fine.  They’re having some FUN with their music – so let’em dammit!  Bill & Matt been doin’ that plenty along the way throughout the course of Yeah, You Did… – don’t get me wrong, in the end, that’s an energy that always pays off on both sides of the speakers.  I’m cool with it over here…they’ve got a highly vibrant and enticing sound goin’ on here in this final cut…and you SHOULD have some fun with the music you make y’all…we’re all too serious all of the time anyhow…lightening things up is always encouraged these days.  DID NOT! does things different from the rest of the scene without apologies or creatively compromising – you should be always be seeking stuff like that out in my opinion.  Yeah, You Did… is a great example of a record that might take a spin or two to grow on you, but it easily earns that through quality songs.

Find out more about DID NOT!, Blunt Objects, and the music of Bill Owens at the official website:  https://bluntobjects.bandzoogle.com

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