Have you ever listened to a band or music artist that no one else has heard of? Doesn’t it suck when you listen to something that’s just so amazing, yet it’s so criminally underrated and completely unknown? Don’t you wish more people knew about that artist? I feel that way about many bands, but there has never been a larger gap between quality and sales than The Dwellers. Well, maybe Justin Bieber, but that’s the complete opposite. Well, let me tell you about this amazing album.
Released in 1995, Whatever Makes You Happy was a fantastic album that for some reason never caught on with a larger audience. They really had a lot going for them, too. They had the location, hailing from New York, which many famous bands and artists are from. The album was also produced by the legendary Tony Visconti. If you don’t know who that is, check his Wikipedia page. You’ll notice that he’s produced albums from artists such as David Bowie, T. Rex, Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop, Thin Lizzy, and The Moody Blues. Unlike many bands who were unknown, they were also signed to a major label, EMI. And it doesn’t hurt that they had some great, well crafted music. So why exactly did they never receive the popularity that they so deserved? The only possible reason I could see for such a travesty is more a result of timing than anything else. In 1995, Post-Grunge bands like Bush and Candlebox and Pop Punk bands like Green Day and The Offspring were what everyone was listening to. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a huge market for the kind of Cheap Trick influenced Power Pop that The Dwellers were playing.
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware of The Dwellers until recently. A few months ago (I think about six or a little bit more), I had a little bit of money, so I decided to go to the local flea market just to check out what they had. They had a lot of CDs there, but I didn’t have a lot of money, so I just got two. I bought Blind Melon’s self titled debut, and I bought this. I bought Blind Melon’s CD due to their reputation as a well respected Alt Rock band, and due to the fact that I like the song “No Rain.” To be honest, I took a huge chance on Whatever Makes You Happy. I actually thought it was going to be a Punk album based on the band’s name (obviously, I was wrong) and I thought the album cover looked cool. Well let me tell you, I loved it when I listened to it. In fact, I haven’t even listened to Blind Melon’s album the whole way through (though I plan on it), yet I listened to Whatever Makes You Happy multiple times. That’s right, I feel that this album was the better purchase. Just how good is it?
This album is simply incredible. The band unleashes a potent brand of glammy Power Pop with some Classic Rock influences, and even a little Alternative, for good measure. It just happens to also be ultra catchy. You can hear influences from Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and ’70s Glam like T. Rex. It’s very well produced and is very polished. Unlike some albums which have a couple of strong songs that you’ll always skip to and a bunch of throwaway material, Whatever Makes You Happy is best listened to as a whole. Every single song on this album is a well crafted, catchy song, and they will stay stuck in your head for a long time. Like any Power Pop band, the guitar is definitely at the forefront, with catchy hooks and guitar solos abound. However, like any truly great band, The Dwellers also have a great rhythm section, and you can actually hear the bass, which is always a plus. And then you have John Andriani, who’s vocals are in a league of their own. In the opening song, New Fashion Show, they state that they’re “gonna blow people away.” Well, they certainly blew me away. Rocket Ride is probably their most well known song. It’s a song that soars and hooks you in. It uses palm muting to great effect and is also a great love song. That’s something you’ll hear throughout the album. In true Cheap Trick fashion, there’s a lot of love songs on this album. I mean, come on, there’s a song called Slave To Romance on the album. In the song Right In Front Of Me, John sings that love is a “gift to be shared.” There’s also the title track, Whatever Makes You Happy, which isn’t a love song, but it’s a song that tells you to be yourself and do, well, whatever makes you happy, even if it’s not “cool” and makes you look foolish. It’s also an excellent Beatle-esque song. Actually, The Beatles would have killed to have a song like Whatever Makes You Happy in their repertoire. However, to counter this, there are also a lot of dark and depressing songs, which contrast with the happy sounding and upbeat music that goes along with them. This contradiction is part of the band’s genius. I Used To Love You is pretty much a breakup song about a relationship where he loses interest in his girlfriend. Waste Of Time talks about a homeless man and a prostitute and the tragedies of the street, and how life is a waste of time. And the song Happy Cloud (ironically named) is about celebrating isolationism and just wanting to stay away from everyone. You need to listen to the other songs, too. With so many great songs about this album, is it even possible to not like it?
I have to say, I can’t find anything wrong with this album. However, there are some people who may not like it (those people are morons). If you don’t like Glam Rock or Power Pop, you won’t like this album. If you’re not a fan of Classic Rock, you won’t like this album. People who aren’t into love songs won’t like this album. Likewise, some people don’t like darker, more depressing music, either. Some people don’t care for guitar solos, so they wouldn’t care for this album, either. Some may feel that it is overproduced. Lastly, if you have terrible taste in music, then you won’t like it.
I’m really happy I found this album. Otherwise, I probably never would have heard of this amazing and overlooked band. The songs are well crafted and extremely catchy, and the lyrics are great, too. I advise you to check out this extremely underrated album. Their songs are hard to find on YouTube (although you can find some of them easily), but you can find their songs here (to download): http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1518289/a/whatever+makes+you+happy.htm You can also buy the album cheap at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Makes-You-Happy-Dwellers/dp/B000008P8F You should buy it. You’ll thank me.