Fireworks

Dishwalla - 'Juniper Road' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 19, 2017    
 
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An absolutely brilliant return from a band that I thought were lost in the mists of time.

I first became aware of Santa Barbara Alt-Rock band Dishwalla courtesy of their quite beautiful third album 'Opaline' in 2002, and though still mildly indifferent to their first two Post-Grunge releases, I found their 2005 'Dishwalla' record superb, if vastly different in style to its predecessor. The band went on hiatus soon after, with supreme vocalist JR Richards eventually going on to release two wonderful solo albums, 'A Beautiful End' (2009) and 'Honore Et Amore' (2016). However, original members Rodney Browning Cravens (guitar), Scot Alexander (bass), George Pendergast (drums) and Jim Wood (keyboards) actually reunited as long ago as 2008, along with new vocalist Justin Fox, yet it's taken just shy of a decade for any new music, but 'Juniper Road' proves it's well worth the wait.

Replacing a vocalist of the calibre of Richards would seem an unenviable task, yet Fox is spectacular throughout, bearing mild similarities to his predecessor but mostly allowing his own character to seep through. He constantly displays his stunning range throughout a series of songs that pay utmost respect to their heritage while taking confident, diverse strides forward, the perfect blend of Classic and Modern Rock that just gets better and better with each listen.

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Bold opener 'Sirens' is an Eastern-tinged blend of Psychedelia and Indie Rock until the uplifting chorus kicks in, with Fox's vocals bearing some resemblance to the late Chris Cornell. It's followed by 'Give Me A Sign', flirting with a similarity to the classic 'Somewhere In The Middle' and huge Arena Rock choruses, the latter approach also bursting forth on the livelier 'Not Alone' and the fantastically stomping 'Don't Fade Away', a sure-fire radio hit if given the opportunity.

'Mazelike Garden' and 'Now I Know' acknowledge their nineties Alt-Rock past, however, it's the mid-tempo, almost melancholic, yet still melodic songs like 'Here For You', 'Hand In Hand' and 'Darkness Conceals' that mostly bear the familiarities to past glories, while the gently meandering acoustic 'Miles Away' and slow-burning closer 'Waiting On You, Love' allow Fox to truly reveal his capabilities, both as vocalist and song-writer.

It's not my favourite Dishwalla album, that honour will forever be bestowed upon the mighty 'Opaline', but 'Juniper Road' is an absolutely brilliant return from a band that I thought were lost in the mists of time.

Ant Heeks

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