Anyone who knows me knows how much I appreciate harmonies. A strong set of vocals in a band is always appreciated. In the case of The Doped Up Dollies’ new record, The New Way Out, the vocals are so strong that I can’t tell you whose voice I like best. The band was formed by Big D and the Kids Table frontman, David McWane. Until now, The Dollies never released a record where they were the frontrunners and Big D and the Kids Table were in the background. I am damned glad that this changed, because I cannot get enough of this record.
The record starts with a happy-go-lucky vibe of a song. “Make Your Own Sunshine” is that song you put on when you’re having the worst day, and it just makes it all better. The intro to it is perfect; the rough studio noises and confirmation that they are ‘rolling’ drew me in. It embodies the 50s doo-wop style perfectly. The backing band (which I must mention is Big D and the Kids Table) is a seamless instrumentation in which the girls showcase their vocals, and the male vocals added for the lower harmonies don’t hurt the track at all.
“Driving Around The Square” is another stand-out track. It’s a playful, storytelling number where one of the girls talks about her first date, ending with the other girls also talking about it. It’s so nice! (If you listen to the track, you’ll get the joke).
My absolute favourite track on the album, however, is “Papa Plays The Drums,” and boy does he play the drums. The drummer, Derek Davis, is incredible, and it is showcased on a track where the lyrics blatantly tell you about it. This song has a rock n’ roll style to it that makes you want to swing dance, but also has a sharp edge to it. Imagine a Grease–inspired swing song that was written in a dirty biker bar: poodle skirts, tattoos, and leather jackets. There is so much get up and go in this song. I haven’t been able to stop myself from dancing to it once, even when it comes on in the car.
Unfortunately, I wish they ended the album with that number, not because the rest of the album is bad- by no means is it bad, I just feel like the rest of the tracks are very relaxed in comparison. The first two tracks, “Make Your Own Sunshine” and “Papa Plays The Drums,” are so upbeat and so energetic that it kind of pumps you up for some more. The rest of the album doesn’t deliver that; it delivers a smooth, reggae dub that makes you want to lay back and relax. And maybe that’s a good thing after all that dancing.
Part of me wanted a little bit more of a kick, before they closed it off with “The Rude.” It’s just too slow of a closer for me, and a huge contrast from the opener. In almost all aspects: the lyrics are about heartbreak instead of empowerment, and the instrumentation is a smooth drag instead of an upbeat bounce. It is still a solid track that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I love this album. My only criticism is the track placement, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing. Everything else is so solid. The little fills you can hear from the recording sessions that come in before a few tracks, the instrumentation, the vocals; it all works so well. And aside from the vocals, it was all recorded live off the floor. You can read all about it in the interview with David McWane (Big D himself) and Alex Stern. They go into detail about the recording process and how the album was produced. I would definitely recommend checking this album out. It is a great piece of music.
Written by Danielle Kenedy
*edited by Kate Erickson