After 12 years Dishwalla are finally back with a new record and a few surprises. ‘Juniper Road’ is a collection of brand new tracks with an old verve
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Those who were into alternative-rock in the 1990’s might have surely come across Dishwalla at one point in their music listening journey. Dishwalla was in fact an American alt-rock band based in Santa Barbara (California) who released their first album, ‘Pet Your Friends’ in 1995, reaching in 1996 the no. 1 position in the Billboard chat, with their single ‘Counting Blue Cars’.
Every album since their debut one – ‘And You Think You Know What Life’s About’ (1998), ‘Opaline’ (2002) and ‘Dishwalla’ (2005) – could have been seen as a progression full of sonic experiments, starting out mixing together grungy-psychedelic sounds that reminded of Nirvana and Radiohead, to then gradually evolve into alternative-rock and developing a strong charisma and personality.
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All this up until 2005, year after which the band decided to part ways and J.R. Richards (lead singer, guitarist and songwriter) to embark on a solo career, which resulted in his first debut album in 2009 (‘A Beautiful End’).
Dishwalla however, surprisingly reformed in 2008 with original members Rodney Browning Cravens (guitar), Scot Alexander (bass), George Pendergast (drums), Jim Wood (keyboard) and Justin Fox joining as lead singer.
It is very risky to reform a band with a brand new singer, after years of having the same one, which, by the way, was even the songwriter of the band; indeed, either if one was a fan of Dishwalla in the 1990’s, or if one has casually come across them in the years, it might sound strange and somewhat shocking to listen to them again after all these years (12 years have passed by since Dishwalla’s last studio album) with a brand new and completely different singer.
Drummer George Pendergast said in an interview for Music Existance that ‘Juniper Road’ (the new album which was just released) wanted to create “something much different than ever have before. [he also added that the band] wanted to be creative in a different way”.
Indeed, ‘Juniper Road’ is surely different from Dishwalla’s previous albums, with a new singer with an edgier voice who comes out during certain tunes. The sounds are still alternative rock, but now have indie rock sprinkles and a bit of pop rock in them, seemingly more inspired by bands like Deaf Havana like in “Give Me a Sign” or by Moose Blood like in “Don’t Fade Away” ,which is such a shame considering Dishwalla’s past in terms of sounds (not that the above mentioned bands aren’t good). Overall, ‘Juniper Road’ offers interesting tracks which seem to be the start of the emergence of a new personality, that of Justin Fox (vocalist) which can be heard in tunes like “Mezelike Garden”, “Hand in Hand” or “Set Me Free”; but that has still has a long way to go before fully emerging. Indeed, the phantom of old Dishwalla is still haunting some of the songs in ‘Juniper Road’ like “Miles Away” or “Waiting on You, Love”, where the singer almost seems to imitate JR Richards’s vocals; and this certainly, does not contribute to the overall originality of the album.