Artist: Dan Melchior
Album: Fire Breathing Clones On Cellular Phones
Label: Plastic Records
Review By: Jacob Gehman
Mistakes are inevitable. They happen. It all depends on the kind of mistake as to how tragic it is. There are albums which have multiple mistakes, yet are pretty good. Others all it takes is one misstep and the whole thing experiences not just an instant drop in quality, but utter oblivion. Melchior makes one almost-tragic mistake, but thankfully pads it with some respectable songs to keep the album from totally tanking.
The album opens up with the haunting “Sparrows and Starlings,” which is without a doubt the standout track on the album. Unfortunately, it is also totally unlike any of the other tracks. It gets stuck in your head and repeats two lines over and over, causing time to slip by at an immeasurable rate. It’s cool, it’s great, and it doesn’t rear it’s head again on this album.
After that the majority of the album is rock as played with a cowboy hat and cigarette. The listen reminds me a bit of some of The Mekon’s albums. There are also places that bring The Fall to mind. It’s not a rock styling done by many artists anymore, and despite the mediocre aspect of the vocals (a flaw found in the prior mentioned bands, too) there are just some great tunes here if you’re into that style of rocking.
Melchior’s major mistake happens twice. They both happen on the only two tracks to go over 7 minutes (and considering most of the other songs are under three and a half minutes that’s a fairly big discrepancy) and drag the overall quality of the album down. Those two tracks feature about three or so minutes of decent song, where Melchior sings and all that jazz. And then just when you’re prepared to go on to the next track he does a long, extended soloing session. There is nothing really wrong with guitar solos, nor with having long ones. However, it is the boring, mundane way these are executed that makes the listening mind-bogglingly tedious. They might be ok in the proper live setting, but on cd the effect is tragic. There is just no reason to listen to them.
The memory of those two tracks just clouds the entire album, making it hard to get enthusiastic about listening to it. This is probably someone’s cup of tea, but it definitely won’t be for everyone. So while Melchior’s mistakes haven’t caused the album to totally buckle under their weight, the album feels severely crippled. If this is a malady of his past albums, present fans won’t bat an eye. Everyone else will want to tread cautiously.