Tonight was one of those nights where I wasn’t quite sure what to do but knew that another night of watching true crime documentaries on TV probably wasn’t the best use of my time. I recently got slammed with album review submissions and have them all on a shelf by my computer but, next to the shelf, is a box that I got from Colorado based Snappy Little Numbers. I had reached out to these guys about reviewing a couple of releases and was so excited to tear through the box they had sent me. I blindly reached into the box and grabbed ‘Mucho Dolor’ by Dinged Up (a reissue of Dinged Up’s 2016 sophomore album).
The album starts with “Corpse Source” and I was instantly captivated by. The unfinished sound of the track was the perfect sound to christen my new turntable for the mainlevel of my house. The beginning of the track starts off a little folky but, without much delay, jumps into an infectious rock sound with grainy vocals that shouldn’t work but work oh so well. Joe Rankin (who recorded all of the parts on this album which is impressive to say the least) has an almost Danzig effect to his voice while staying truly unique while the instrumentation behind him lays down driving and almost poppy sounds. Although just the first song on the album, I already knew that I was going to love every moment of the journey that is ‘Mucho Dolor’.
“All The Other Girls” keeps with the strangely unique sound laid out on “Corpse Source” but brings a very Teenage Bottlerocket skater punk vibe to the front of everything else. Although calling this a love song would definitely be a stretch, the lyrics of this song are super sweet and it made me love this song instantly. Between the lyrics and the infectious beat, this is one of those songs that had me dancing around on my couch like an idiot. That dancing continued as the album rolled into “Don’t Torture Me”. The background vocals that come through this track loud and clear give an almost surf side to this album that I didn’t see coming but stood out throughout the rest of the album after hearing it so plainly in “Don’t Torture Me”. Yet another interesting aspect of an already interesting project, this track is one of those songs that if someone asked me to suggest one single song by this group to give them the feel for Dinged Up, it would have to be this one.
Things get a little thrashier for “Fight Back Instead” in all of the right ways. Much like the other tracks on this album, “Fight Back Instead” comes off as choppy with a break about half way through the track which had me concerned that the song was done. Thankfully it wasn’t and it kicked back in for another minute and a half after a quick pause. This odd yet somehow genius song structure thing that Dinged Up does is so unique but so powerful. Out of all of the songs on this album, “Fight Back Instead” was my favorite lyrically. “You gotta be your best” repeats not only in the song, but also in your head as an almost mantra that will stick with you well after this album ends.
“Noose” and “Dial Tone” close out the first side of this album with a sense of power and a sound that only Dinged Up can pull off. Both songs merge together even though they are completely different. The guitar strumming on “Dial Tone” comes out of left field but, again, works perfectly just like every other quirky aspect that Joe Rankin scatters throughout this album.
I was anxious to turn the album over and see what else was in store for me. “Devastator” didn’t dissapoint and brought a whole new vibe to this album that I think I subconsciously always knew was there but it was never really given the attention it deserved. Perfectly anthemic in all of the ways an anthemic song should not be, the song structure of this one had waves of sound and energy in all of the right places creating yet another favorite track of mine.
I didn’t even notice when the track switched to “Homeless Coup” until I got up to see where the needle was. The seemlessness of the song transitions is something that I always look for in an album but never seem to get. Dinged Up perfects this art (and I mean it when I call it an art). At just over 4 minutes long, “Homeless Coup” is the longest track on this album but also one of the most interesting. Although there are lyrics at the beginning of this song, they fall out and leave just Joe’s insanely interesting instrumentation.
“Folding” is one of the more upbeat tracks on this album. It’s the kind of song that make you move no matter where you are. The driving beat, the thrashy vocals, the slamming drums… this song has everything a skatepark anthem should have and although it has been years since I have gotten on my skateboard, I was highly tempted to jump on and see what I could do (too bad it’s raining.. and yes, that’s the excuse I’m sticking with). The title track, “Mucho Dolor”, continues to make me yearn for my skateboard but also slows things down a little bit. An almost chilled out skatepark anthem, I loved how this one joins up with “Folding” so perfectly but seems to take the sound of “Folding” and show it in another light.
“Tired” is the quickest track on this album but another one of my favorites due to the lyrics. Simple yet painfully relateable, this song hit my perfectly and I couldn’t help but listen to it a couple of times before moving onto the final track of this album. Maybe that was because of how short the song is, maybe because I didn’t want to listen to the last track because that meant the end of my current journey with Dinged Up, or maybe because I flat out love this song. Regardless, I repeated this one until even my cats were annoyed with it.
The album closes with “If I Make It Pretty Enough” which, surprise surprise, was another favorite of mine. I found it a little odd for the album to end on an almost somber note but the calmness of this track really grew on me within just a few seconds. The rest of this album is so upbeat and in your face that it was almost like a palate cleanser so you could go on with your day. Even when Joe brings in some major instrumentation, there’s just something more subdued about this song than the rest.
All in all, ‘Mucho Dolor’ by Dinged Up is all over the place musically but is nothing short of genius. The wide range of influences is heard loud and clear throughout this album as is the creativity and uniqueness of Joe Rankin. Although this is the only recording from Dinged Up that I have, it won’t be the last that I collect. I can’t wait to dig into Dinged Up’s whole discography.
My Favorite Track(s): Literally all of them
For Fans Of: Skateboarding; thrash but less heavy; genius and innovative song structure
Dance-ability: 7.6 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right next to my computer monitor; Autumn hid in my closet because of the rain
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.9 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.73 out of 5
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