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The Dilettantes 

101 Tambourines (Stranger Touch)

Wednesday, Aug 1 2007
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Some might remember San Francisco's Joel Gion as the massively sideburned goof-off in the Brian Jonestown Massacre documentary, Dig! Having been perhaps the silliest yet still pretentious member of a band full of all that and more, the arrival of Gion's own combo's debut full-length portends well for those into unhinged '60s lovin'. On the Dilettantes' 101 Tambourines, that sound is reined in close to the bone, though, with mere hints of sitars, harmonies, and the psychedelic like. Fuzzed-out guitars with occasionally wiry, mind-blowing (or at least mind-breezing) solos abound ("Ready to Go," "Marzipan"). But by three songs in, the Dilettantes curve into that early-'80s L.A. take on the flower-power decade, the "paisley underground." The jangly guitars and raw but clear production of True West, Green on Red, et al, return on Byrdsy bits like "The Whole World" and "Everlasting Low." While Gion's limited vocals sound better when he goes for a lulled croon ("Like Crazy," "Brightly Lit New Dark Ages"), those lovey-dovey ditties feel a bit drab compared to the more upbeat numbers. So there's a conundrum for these Dilettantes, but being out from under the Brian Jonestown train wreck may allow for Gion to keep rolling long enough to figure it out.

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Eric Davidson

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