Dolour’s Suburbiac is a beauteous, jangly one-man band album in the manner of early Rundgren. Dolour is Seattle’s slight, young and very talented Shane Tutmarc who sings, writes, plays guitars, bass, piano, organ, drums, synths, and in keeping with his Brian Wilson jones, glockenspiel, mellotron and theremin for good measure.
In addition to Todd and Brian, I hear pieces of the Beatles (duh), Big Star, Eric Carmen, Material Issue, Third Eye Blind, and LA’s Paisley Underground of the ’80s (Three O’Clock, Dream Syndicate/Steve Wynn, Green On Red).
The first track, “Menage a Trois,” is a charging Material Issue-like power-popper that posits Tutmarc’s recurring theme of messy relationships: this one just a standard triangle (not the racy title) where he gingerly demands a decision regarding what he sees as an untenable situation. His resolve waivers a bit in the middle, but he’s back to wanting a “me or him” decision by the end: pride vs. longing.
“Suburbiac” looks at a similar situation from the other side, set to an “Eleanor Rigby” arrangement, with the classic line “kissing you is like getting high on someone else’s drugs.” Clearly Shane’s not down wit’ O.P.P., going so far as to propose “let’s make the most of your last $20 bill, and hire a hitman to hit your boyfriend.” What would Father McKenzie say?
“So Done With You” (notice the theme) is a very Third Eye Blind beat ballad and of course the strain in his voice indicates that the title is wishful thinking.
“Iceland” is a Weezeresque modern rocker with fashionably processed vocals bemoaning the departure of a beloved exchange student back to the homeland of the title: “You took off to Iceland and I hit an iceberg.” The song hits another level when Tutmarc leaps through falsetto arpeggios at the end.
Also memorable are the skittering electronic breakbeat rhythms and infectious chorus of “Highway Hypnosis,” and the lovely Rhodes-based ’70s soul of “Rest Your Head” (tres Todd!). Very, very fine.
If you, like Dolour, are in the Northwest, check the band out on their (live band includes Phil Peterson on pocket trumpet, synthesizer, and harmonies; Eric Hawk on guitar; Sugar McGuinn on bass; Joey Sanchez on drums) upcoming mini-tour:
- March 4 – SF – Cafe Du Nord
March 5 – OAKLAND – Stork Club
March 6 – CHICO – Tower Records in-store
March 7 – EUGENE – A Performance and Interview on 88.1 KWVA
plus – a Live show @ The Sameri Duck
March 8 – PORTLAND – Meow Meow
Dolour also appears on the fascinating if uneven Brian Wilson tribute album, Making God Smile. This time it’s a real band recording with Tutmarc backed by his friends from Wonderful on “This Whole World,” a relatively obscure track from the Beach Boys’ Sunflower album. The acoustic guitar pop-rocker performs the astonishing trick of changing keys every verse, another of Brian’s “teenage symphonies to God” indeed.
Other highlights of the mostly alt-Christian artist collection include Tom Prasada-Rao and Amilia K. Spicer doing “Your Imagination”with an Aimee Mann feel to it, a remarkably faithful “Good Vibrations” from Cleveland guitar legend Phil Keaggy, Sixpence None the Richer on “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” and a strange goth-electronic version of “Help Me Rhonda” by Kevin Max (who sounds remarkably like Bono in places) and Jimmy A.