In 2016, Dolph Chaney was a JEOPARDY! contestant. Alex Trebek spent his interview with Dolph by trading "Weird Al" Yankovic anecdotes. His correct question-answers included John Lennon, Flight Of The Conchords, and Jesse & the Rippers. So, if you're new to Dolph's music, you should know that you're in talented, smart, and funny hands. These hands hold a new album for 2020, entitled REBUILDING PERMIT.
Starting in 1987, around the time Robert Pollard and Lou Barlow were starting to do the same in rec rooms in Dayton and Northampton, Dolph (then 13 years old) began messing around with words, melodies, guitars, his Realistic Moog synthesizer, and half-malfunctioning tape recorders in his Indianapolis basement.
REBUILDING PERMIT arrives 7 years after its predecessor, SHENANIGANS, a one-man-show of Dolph's creativity and craft with loose but listenable sonics. The solo approach follows a line from homemade peaks such as GUMSHOE KOALA (2008) and LOUDNESS 2 11 (2012). REBUILDING has PERMITted outside collaborators for the first time since 1998's NEW BIRD RISE. These include engineer Milk Arnold ("will mix for pie") and drummers Clayton Melocik (on the giant jangle of pre-album single "It's OK") and Jim LeFager, who navigates the album's genre gauntlet from rolling folk ("The Biscuit (Who Grabbed My Face)") to sensitive and deft rock grooves ("Broken," "If I Write It Down," and "Diet Of Worms"), from roots-rock ("The Handling," "A Good Road Is Hard To Find") and end-of-prom waltzing ("(Who Am I) To Ask You To Dance?") to the '90s-throwback agitpop-punk of "The President Of The United States Is The Breitbart Bimbo."
Jim and Milk also helped Dolph resurrect "I Am The B-Side," a song written 25 years earlier for his Houston-based band Port Radium, as the (ahem) B-side of "It's OK" for its August 2019 release in Big Stir Records' Digital Singles series. The two tracks are featured on the December 2019 compilation CD BIG STIR SINGLES: THE FOURTH WAVE, alongside kindredly melodic spirits from across the country and various ponds.
The sound is pop both familiar and alien. The guitars ring and buzz with Townshendy zeal, analog synth bloops and chatters away, as the voice soothes and cajoles and smirks and pries and climbs... until suddenly the listener, for example, becomes aware of being awash in an apocalyptic epiphany amid a song about nasal spray.
But it's not all fun and game shows-- the REBUILDING has been thorough and it's all reflected in the songs, as Dolph spent the intervening years getting sober and grieving the passing of several loved ones, including his Baptist-minister father. The songs show him processing all of that and finding peace at the Studio Dolphty home base near Chicago with his wife, dog, and 3 cats.
Comparisons have been made to acknowledged influences such as XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, the Violent Femmes, Bob Mould, Elvis Costello, Matthew Sweet, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Henry Cow. Dolph's music has brought him experiences running the gamut, from early encouragement received by mail from experimental guitar shaman Eugene Chadbourne, to sitting in a festival green room being told by Jim Bakker why he cowers at the sight of a Diet Coke.
Dolph's prior work is available immediately along with many others via http://www.dolphchaney.com/ and major online retailers and services. Throughout these three decades of work, what always shines through in a Dolph Chaney release are the imaginative, irrepressible, and deeply felt songs. Feel them today.