Something about the cover and title of Des Rocs’ new album ‘Dream Machine’ is calling to me right now. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve been stuck in dream land with all of the sleeping I’ve been doing lately due to being sick but, regardless, I’m taking it as a sign that now is a good time to check out this new album.

The album kicks off with the title track, “Dream Machine”. After an almost choral-feeling intro, Des Rocs lays into his unique sound. It’s a little rock, a little hip-hop, a little spoken word, a little everything and it’s perfect. I feel like the way Des Rocs lays out his lyrics against fairly minimalistic yet bombastic instrumentation in this opening track is definitely eye catching. After just about a minute of this spoken word vibe, Des Rocs jumps into something a bit more traditional rock. It’s explosive, it’s emotive, and it’s perfect. Think a Freddie Mercury presentation of something a bit more Rolling Stones with a bit more of a current flash to it. The track continues on switching effortlessly from this more rock vibe back to the spoken word intro and back again– it’s all over the place. I was looking for something to take me away from the sickness I was feeling in my head and this track did the track.

“I Am The Lightning” comes at you like a ton of bricks. Starting with a fuzzy guitar solo, this song seems to hone in on the more bluesy influence of Des Rocs’ music. It has an almost Southern swagger to the vocals that I wasn’t expecting from Des Rocs but was absolutely here for it. This song has a larger-than-life sound to it making it feel like a track ready for an arena. I know that Des Rocs isn’t a household name but listening to “I Am The Lightning” made me realize that it’s just a matter of time before that changes.

The shortest track on this album is “White Gold” but don’t let the length of this third track trick you. The vocals in this track had me absolutely shook. There’s something sultry and sexy about them but it’s not super obvious. It reminds me a little bit of grandson just with how easily Des Rocs seems to switch between vibes and tones but even that doesn’t feel like a perfect comparison. Really, Des Rocs is in his own little world and you really feel that when listening to “White Gold”.

Things completely change when it comes to “Nowhere Kid”. Well, kind of. This song starts off with an acoustic guitar and vocals before the rest of the instrumentation takes over and springs this track into Des Rocs’ world. There’s a sense of tenderness when it comes to the approach in the vocals of this song that I found addicting. Like so many other elements that Des Rocs puts in his music, I feel like this tenderness is subtle but it’s absolutely there. It makes sense when you read the lyrics to this song. “Something is wrong here/ I never fit in / I don’t belong here/ I’m a nowhere kid”. Sure, those aren’t the deepest words but the way that they are presented in this song truly adds a sense of emotional heaviness in this track that is super impactful.

The way the heaviness of “Nowhere Kid” gives way to the almost strict feeling and triumphant “Never Ending Moment” is genius. Again, this song gives you such an arena-ready sound that it’s hard to picture seeing this live in a small intimate venue. Typically that’s not a good thing especially to a person like me who much prefers intimate shows over arena sized ones but it’s a thing of magic that I wasn’t expecting when I pressed play on this album. “Never Ending Moment” seems to have a bit more of a vintage take on things. There’s something about the vocals that is just slightly echoed to give it a more retro feeling.

That retro feeling is alive and well with the opening of “Bad Blood”. Although not my favorite track on this album, I loved how it slowed things down ever so slightly when it comes to this album. It brings back a slight sense of that Southern swagger heard in “I Am The Lightning”. An addictive chorus that will surely get stuck in your head upon first listen is just one of the many things that stood out to me about this song. The layers throughout this track is another thing. Whether it’s just the way the guitar lays so easily over the drum hits or the layers of vocals during that catchy chorus– I feel like the overall layout and composition of this song is so simple yet so perfect.

That simple feeling (although I know it’s not actually simple when you dig into it) sound continues into “Natural Born Thriller”. This is a boot stomper for sure. The beat is heavy and muddy with the vocals adding a sense of almost danger to this song. Maybe it’s the song title but I imagine this song being used in a zombie movie of sorts. It would be perfect for that moment when the hero is walking away from completely annihilating a horde of zombies. I may be losing it and, if that’s the case, I blame the copious amounts of DayQuil pumping through my system but give this song a listen and let me know what you think. Regardless of what you come up with, I’m sure this will bring up some scene in some movie just due to how dramatic and perfect it is.

Second to last on this album is “In The Night” and I feel like this is the first time we see the tender side of Des Rocs come through loud and clear. This is a gorgeous track but is definitely a gearshift from everything else on the album. Slow and steady with an almost psychedelic vibe flowing behind the gorgeous vocals, this song seemed to catch me off guard but not in the worst way. This whole album seems to go a hundred miles an hour so it was nice to hear things slow down if only for a couple of minutes. Don’t get me wrong, this song still absolutely has an undeniable sense of energy to it but the focus leaves the instrumentation and rock-influence and truly shines a light on the vocal talent of Des Rocs. Although five and a half minutes long, there are so many modes and movements throughout this track that I found it to be a perfectly dynamic listen and I felt as if Des Rocs had me stuck in the palm of his hand throughout the entire track.

All good things must come to an end and ‘Dream Machine’ ends beautifully with “Up To You”. I expected this album to close out with another banger but, instead, Des Rocs continues to dig into the more tender side of his music. The lyrics, like the vocals, are absolutely beautiful. The song kind of drifts on a sea of thoughts and sounds which is such a great way to ease you back into the real world after enjoying the journey that is ‘Dream Machine’. Although part of me wanted something super bombastic and in-your-face to end this journey, after being left in silence at the end of “Up To You”, I realized that Des Rocs had done something genius with this as the final track and I was left both satisfied and wanting so much more from him at the same time.

I’ve seen Des Rocs’ name before. He has played the Twin Cities a couple of times and it’s always a show that catches my eye but, for some reasons, I have never chosen it as my show for that particular night. That changes now. After hearing ‘Dream Machine’, all I want to do is see these songs performed live so, Des Rocs, this is me pleading with you to come back to the Twin Cities soon!

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