Despite all the regally named artists on Island/Def Jam’s roster, the label has been pulling a bullheaded move in failing to properly publicize what could easily be one of their best signed bands. The Boston based rock & rollers released an EP in October of last year to surprisingly little fanfare. This may be from the band’s less-than-stellar 2003 RCA debut From The Attic, but believe me when I say today Damone is a much better band. With their new LP Out Here All Night hitting the Itunes music store two full months before shelving, the band are making a bold statement about the shape of their new sound. Maybe this is Island’s lame way of “testing” out the record on the music community, or maybe Damone just got fed up with the label’s apathetic marketing strategy and took matters into their own hands being anxious get their CD out, either way this means a huge cash-in on the part of Damone fans: new music for the head and the heart.
Named after a character from the 1982 flick “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” Damone are Noelle, Mike, Dustin, and Vazquez shredding out their edgy brand of melodic metallic rock. Leader singer and guitarist Noelle is the era’s new Joan Jett, less punk and more rock and roll, but a definitive riotgrrl nonetheless. Trading in her punk strain for a straightforward rock tone, Noelle has become the unique element to Damone’s sound, turning what could easily be another male-fronted 80’s hair metal rip-off into a snarling, pop-rooted youth manifesto. The band’s 3:1 male to female ratio works in their favor as what they forego in testosterone vocals, they make up in sizzling, tectonic musicianship.
Behind the kit Dustin Hengst is a drumming machine, regulating the beat in an easygoing canter. Like a seasoned veteran, Hengst knows his place in the band and sticks to it by ornamenting his beats to enhance the band’s dynamic rather than steal the spotlight with tasteless breakdowns. Likewise, Vazquez’s bass parts seal in the quartet’s rhythm section, humming along as the core infrastructure to which Damone’s guitar-driven sound can grow. If I haven’t already made it clear, Out Here All Night is a rock & roll effort if there ever was. Testament to this are songs like “Now Is The Time”, “Get Up And Go,” “Outta My Way,” “What We Came Here For,” and the album’s title track, where Mike’s blistering Van Halen styled-guitar riffs and melodies emblazon the music.
However, before I jump the gun, Out Here All Night does find itself making some lackluster missteps, mostly in the form of slower acoustic ballads like “Wasted Years” that clash with the band’s innate energy. On that same note, punk tunes reminiscent of From The Attic such as “Tonight” somehow fall flat in the face of Damone’s new metal-rock sound. That is not to say these type of songs don’t have an audience. When the mood is right, the dreamy allure of “When You Live” is a heavy-hearted masterpiece of lyrical substance. With Noelle’s voice taking on an innocent, hopeful quality, the track hits home in a way frenzied guitar work never could.
So forget about 2003’s From The Attic or least view it as an axis before enlightenment because Damone deserve to be heard. The way I see it, everyone has three options after reading this review. Buy the Itunes release of Out Here All Night now, wait two months to get a hardcopy at your record store, or in the very least stream a track on purevolume or myspace. Not listening is just simply not an option.
1. Now Is The Time
2. Out Here All Night
3. What We Came Here For
4. Stabbed In The Heart
5. On Your Speakers
6. Get Up And Go
7. Outta My Way
8. YouÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re The One
9. New Change Of Heart
10. When You Live
12. Wasted Years
“Now Is The Time”, “Out Here All Night”, “Get Up And Go”, “New Change Of Heart”, “When You Live”