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Reviews » Audio Reviews » Dishwalla - Opaline
Dishwalla - Opaline
Other // DVD Audio // April 23, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Dvdempire]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted June 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
While the DVD-Audio format hasn't really taken off, the notion that a relatively unknown band like Dishwalla can get a release is encouraging; potentially it's bands like this one, with a strong, personal following, that can make a format get a second wind.

Most people may remember Dishwalla for the 1995 hit "Counting Blue Cars," an alt-rock staple for a while, as well as singer JR Richards's earthy tenor. The band at times sounds like a cross between Pearl Jam and U2, although they have replaced a bit of the edgy dark-rock sound on previous releases with a more accessible pop-melody sound here. They may be hoping to gain new fans (although it's hard to see radio stations fitting them in between Eminem, Linkin Park, and Britney) without losing the old ones.

There is no question that these guys can play. They create atmosphere and a broad soundscape with what sounds like little effort. It's their song writing that is maybe a little less strong: These are all fine songs, but they don't really take the band into new territory. In the commentary track on the DVD the band members discuss different instruments that they use throughout but that's just window dressing. If the new sounds sound similar to the old sounds, and if they don't open up the songs to new emotions or ideas, then they aren't really that new, are they?

Still, Dishwalla are solid. A song like "Angels or Devils" has the slow build and dramatic arc of a well written song. By creating a melancholy atmosphere and sticking to it the band is able to give their music a consistent feel. Opaline doesn't play with the humor of older songs like "Charlie Brown's Parents" and it comes off sounding seasoned and real. The lyrics may seem overly poetic on first listen but there are really some interesting questions and comments on life. This from "Every Little Thing": "I wish I could be / every little thing you wanted / all the time / some times." That uncertainty permeates the entire album and drives Dishwalla's emotional sense of longing.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 music production here sounds excellent. Each instrument is clear and crisp and there is a terrific amount of range to the sounds. While this is a well-produced disc all-around and the CD would probably sound just as good to most listeners, there is a nice sense that the entire surround spectrum is working here to create a fluid, vibrant noise.

EXTRAS:
During each song the DVD shows a still screen with the song's lyrics. While some motion would have been nice the presentation here is fine. Each song is also available with band commentary (although it must be selected at the start and cannot be switched on and off) which is a pretty nice feature. Mostly the band talks about the process of making the music, but at times they talk about the effect their fans have had on them and vice versa as well as other aspects of playing music professionally. The commentary will hold more interest for serious Dishwalla fans than casual listeners.

Photo galleries and a minor behind-the-scenes peak are also included.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Dishwalla has a distinctive sound that combines a mournful sadness with guitar-driven energy. Opaline is a classy disc, without the immature rantings of new-metal but less pretentious than Creed. A solid effort from a solid band.

Email Gil Jawetz at buskerdog@yahoo.com

Order "Dishwalla - Opaline" now!
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