The basics: Dientes are a four-man rock band from Warrington, North West England, currently “unsigned” (although with the Internet, who needs a label, these days?) – they funded the mastering for their debut album, Numbers & Stations, through Kickstarter, and generally enjoy what you could call “local acclaim”. How did I hear Dientes? When I was a youth, a mate lent me a CD, which exploded my brain into a thousand little pieces and rebuilt it with a subtle difference – I now cared about new music. Pity, of course, that this was about a decade after Rage Against The Machine debuted, but I’m not a bandwaggoner, by any stretch of the imagination. Fast forward to 2009, and Killing In The Name‘s resurgence as a Christmas number one, and all the headbanging rap-rock mania of my youth came flooding back. By the June of 2010, I was the proud owner of a ticket to the free celebratory gig in Finsbury Park; in the queue, on my lonesome, I chatted to a few people, and hung out. By the time we’d broken our necks on the altar of Rage, we’d all become firm chums; through the power of Facebook, I’d heard Keith’s bass playing in his new band, Dientes.Then came Kickstarter, and my copy of Numbers & Stations. In short, were it not for a scuffed up copy of a 1992 rap-metal album, I’d never be listening to this. Don’t you love cause and effect?
To the meat, bones and substance… Numbers & Stations is, without doubt, a rock album. Nothing “alternative”, nothing particularly pigeonholeable – there are two guitars, three voices, one bass, and a set of drums, played with more than soupcon of skill, to songs which bury their way into your head. Lizzy kicks off with a groovy riff, and quite British vocals (as you would expect). It sounds quite Queens of the Stone Age, but filtered through a heavily North-Western lens; nothing here sounds American as such, although West and Southern rock do have a strong influence. One of the best songs, riffs and moods comes along on Stoner, which gives a further hint to its sonic provenance. Crawling along, it sounds a lot darker, a lot less good-time-band-in-a-bar (and not to knock it – from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Dr Feelgood, via just about most real R&B bands, having a good time has a tradition) than its immediate predecessor.
Shine reminds me a point somewhere between Elbow and U2 – more guitars than their fellow North-Westerners, but less stadium-gazing than Bono and his merry band. Bring you down is another stomper, one to nod along to – a proper throwback to the late ’70s here, inviting you to cruise slowly down a desert road… with Morrissey and a slinky guitar solo. Infinitive mines that darker seam, which explodes into a big old riff-a-thon by the last couple of minutes, while Finding it half is a more twangy, jangly ‘ballad’ that switches up a gear to another fearful guitar outburst by the end. Nothing to say doesn’t really say much, but rattles along nicely – after a brief interlude, Mission Ray struts out of the Guns ‘n’ Roses school of swaggering metal, amid lots of revolutions coming to town. This track saves one of the best guitar solos til the near end of the album, a clever bit of pacing; the art of which is slowly going down the pan in the age of shuffle.
The Factory is possibly the poppiest, reminding me of the Vines in their less aggressive moments, drawing on that soft-rock vein, although, as you should have expected by now, there’s a bit of a bang in the middle, where the pedals get stomped and the squealing guitars go a bit wild. Closing off with burgeoning epic What You Want, you get what you should expect – a gamut of rock from first to last, from a good old gigging band, making it locally and doing what they can to spread the word. If you like guitars, and a significant lack of pretension, then get this album, and get it here.
Key tracks: Stoner/Infinitive/Mission Ray
Update – the Kickstarter reward was a cover of a song, recorded and filmed by the band. I asked for Ben E King’s classic ‘Stand By Me’…