Air Stereo

The second album by the Brooklyn-based rock quartet The Damnwells is another collection of enjoyable songs and engaging personality.

The band emerged with their self-released EP, or so-called "Poor Man's Record," in 2003. Largely on the strength of their song "Sleepsinging," the band was signed to a major label and got the associated national boost they needed to get their career launched. Relentless touring followed, leading to so many shows here in Pittsburgh that some observers wondered whether they were actually a local band.

Songs by the Damnwells are often about romantic hopes and losses, and the tracks on Air Stereo fit largely within this arena. The group's songwriter Alex Dezen always manages to inject some interesting turn of phrase into his songs, like when he describes conflicted emotions in the song "Kung Fu Grip Kiss" as a "split screen feeling." Though the album closes with a political song, "God Bless America," the perspective is that of troubled romance between the narrator and the nation.

Fewer of the songs on the new album have an alt-country influence than on their last album, but the band is experimenting with horns and strings to keep their sound evolving and fresh. Two members of the band Ollabelle lend their vocal assistance to the record's first single "Golden Days" and on one other track

Air Stereo is no radical departure for The Damnwells, and that's a good thing. It's another solid album by a terrific band.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director