March 22, 2001
Although recorded three years ago, Dark Blonde Waters self-titled debut album was released in January by the South Bend-based band made up of Fort Wayne natives. The band likes to describe its music as psychedelic, southern and folk/rock. All three styles are prominent on Dark Blonde Water at various time in various amounts. The total makes for a very listenable album.
Dark Blonde Water consists of Lee Miles, guitar and lead vocals who is also the primary songwriter; Josh Hermes, also guitar and vocals; Josh White, bass guitar; and Brett Gilpin, drums and vocals.
After years of working the local and regional club scene, DBW is counting on this album to help them capture a more wide-ranging audience. If that audience wants to hear thoughtful lyrics and mainly slow- to mid-tempo songs, many of which build appealingly to strong harmonies, that should be no problem to achieve.
Interestingly, DBW began life as a Christian band five years ago, and although there are few overtly religious messages in the 11 songs here, there is a great deal of spirituality and philosophy. Miles, White and Hermes left Fort Wayne to attend Bethel College in Mishawaka. Drummer Gilpin, who is Hermes stepbrother, joined the band later. The group changed their name after playing for a while under the moniker, Hagas, when a heavy metal group in Florida informed them their initial name was taken. Those groups may have shared names, but its doubtful anyone would have confused the two.
Nine of the songs were written by Miles; one of two written by Hermes, Through You, has a nice interplay between the acoustic guitar and Gilpins percussion. They manage to create a lot of energy in the typically understated DBW way. The lyrics evoke images of The Last Supper, with a personalized vision: This world could be so easy/ but I chose the hard way to go/ because I want/ to flow through you. Gone Tomorrow, written by Miles, and again featuring the strong guitar work (acoustic and haunting electric), percussion and a cello, is among the best songs on the CD. Miles and Hermes blend their different voices particularly well (one is light and airy, one almost Eddie Vedder-like in its intensity), and, again the energy builds nicely. The lyrics show Miles ability to avoid any hint of religious cliché: I remember never needing anything/ then I fell on hard times, yes I did/ now the wind blows lonely on me. Considering three years have passed since this best of CD was recorded, you can only assume DWB have grown and matured.
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