Dean Strickland - Some Girls To Blame
(Never Die Records)
3 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Sept. 2, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataThere's a lot of young kids who dream of becoming a rock star at a very young age, the difference with Dean Strickland (who was weaned on artists such as The Beatles, Stones and Hank Williams), however, is that he's turned his vision and dream into a reality - with apparently very little help from anyone else.
Originally hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Strickland now resides in the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles and the many differences between cultures (musically and otherwise) run rampant throughout his debut album Some Girls To Blame.
Not only has Strickland written all 24 songs for this album, but he also plays the vast majority of the instruments himself. The do-it-yourself mentality not only stops there, as the Texan-turned-Tinseltown-tunesmith has also created his own Never Die record label for this release. While most albums that contain material performed primarily by one artist usually comes off feeling stiff and canned, the songs here contain a welcoming organic feel to them. From the alt-country twang of "If You Want This To End" (which also features Masato Enami on slide guitar) and the country-tinged ballad that hearkens back to Gram Parsons on "She's Got Problems" to the T. Rex-meets-John Lennon bump-and-grind rave-up of "Rachel, I'm Very Sorry" to the straight-forward catchy pop filled with shimmering guitars on "I've Learned" and "She Don't Love Me" this is definitely a guy with not only a knapsack full of strong compositions but talent as well.
While the majority of this well-rounded album is refreshing in its blend of different musical styles, its the direct influences of modern L.A. that finds the only flaw in the mix. Strickland tosses in the snot-nosed kiddie punk of bands like Blink 182 on "I'm Wondering (Are You Paranoid)" and the opening track of "Please Tell Me That I've Suffered Enough" which smacks more of a sell-out than a true love of that style. Thankfully, however, these moments are kept to a minimum, and with the help of songs like "I Hate You," where Strickland gets the punk thing right this time with more of a raw-nerve Nirvana delivery, and "There's No One As Beautiful As You, with it's gospel-infused Black Crowes swagger, they're also soon forgiven and forgotten.
"Will I ever find a bassist and a drummer, to help me play my original songs?," Strickland questions at one point on the number "Bassist and Drummer Wanted," but with a collection of songs fleshed out so well by himself, it's a want ad that he doesn't really need to fill.
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