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Panic Bell

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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The Panic Bell
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Audio CD, April 17, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Though the Chicago band often finds itself linked with roots rock and alternative country, its first release in five years (following some side projects during the hiatus) is steeped in the influence of 1960s rock classicism in general and the Beatles in particular. The heart of the band's music remains the husband-and-wife harmonies of Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen, on material predominantly written by Dawson (though Christiansen's "Small Pockets" is a dark, delicate highlight). The opening "Complete Resistance" sounds like George Harrison playing Southern soul licks, while "Everything" and "You Never Will" are buoyant, propulsive pop at its most ebullient. "Sad Panda Clown's Lament" echoes a Beach Boys chorale, and "Triumph Mine, Idaho" kicks like the Rolling Stones before "Good Provider" provides a benediction. It's an album devoid of both weak material and rootsy twang. --Don McLeese

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Complete Resistance
  2. Everything
  3. Small Pockets
  4. ALl Gonna Change
  5. The Truth Is Told
  6. You Never Will
  7. Sad Panda Clown's Lament
  8. Triumph Mine, Idaho
  9. Your Last Mistake
  10. Good Provider


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 17, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Undertow Music
  • ASIN: B000MQ55NO
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,435 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
in this modern age of recorded music, where the convenience of downloading has turned the music business back into a singles-based market, DV's 'the panic bell' proves that just because albums as a whole aren't selling like they used to doesn't mean that musicians aren't striving to put out collections of quality songs, sequenced and arranged with care. while the band has been putting out critically-praised albums and touring with a constant line-up for over a decade, dolly varden refuses to fall into the trap of creating the same album over and over.

from the opening notes of 'the panic bell', it is obvious that this is not a band to be pigeonholed into one specific genre. "complete resistance" and "everything", the first two tracks on the album, along with "you never will", which appears later on the disc, show the band at their most energetic and soulful. vocalist and songwriter steve dawson's vocals still retain a southern blue-eyed soulfulness that rivals alex chilton at his best. diane christiansen, dawson's wife and a fine songwriter in her own right, adds glorious complementary harmonies to steve's tracks which never seem contrived or superfluous.

the album never stays in one genre too long, leaving the listener to wonder just where the band is going next. on moments like "triumph mine, idaho", with its rocking, rave-up ending, "your last mistake", with hints of laurel canyon laid-back folk rock, and "all gonna change", with building harmonic intensity, dolly varden shows the band's appreciation for classic rock riffs and pop hooks. during these numbers, one can invision the band sounding amazing coming through a transistor radio speaker.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD was released on my birthday and what a present it is!

While not really doing anything that hasn't been done before, Dolly Varden infuses its songs with great lyrics with just the right amount of self-rightousness, wonderful arrangements, and excellent musicianship. Hard to believe they are practically unknown outside of alternative country rock circles.

For the uninitiated, Dolly Varden plays an understated brand of rootsy rock with leanings toward country, pop and soul...but is never afraid to launch into propulsive rock and roll. This band has garnered rave reviews with all of its releases--likely to continue with this, its best release yet.

The Panic Bell is more fully realized than the excellent Forgiven Now. You can feel the care and passion that went into this release. Every song sounds fresh. Hard to pick favorites but Good Provider, Complete Resistance, The Truth Is Told and Your Last Mistake shine.

I hope a West Coast tour is in the offing.
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Format: Audio CD
It's been four years since the last installment of Dolly Varden music, but The Panic Bell arrives with the key elements of the band's music wholly intact. Songwriter Steve Dawson has an unerring capacity for finding the caveat in joy and desolation, in light and darkness. His voice thins and strains with compelling force; partner Diane Christiansen's is here a fragile ache, there a soothing croon of reassurance; and when they sing together, the two create an entirely new whole. The band moves seamlessly from the delicate, folky sound of "Small Pockets" and the Stones-tinged rock of "You Never Will" to the guitar-and-harp wail of "Triumph Mine, Idaho" and the gorgeous pop of "It's All Gonna Change," all the while managing to inhabit the music with a simmering, barely contained intensity. The Panic Bell serves notice that Dolly Varden continues to make pop music that is seductive, transcendent and peerless.
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Format: Audio CD
Let's give Forgiven Now a 10/10 and Dumb as Magnets an 8/10. Panic Bell earns a 3/10. As noted, I made a rather huge Error In Fact. The album title is The Dumbest Magnets. Sloppy. My bad. Since I am here, I might as well finish off the other albums: The Thrill Of Gravity 7/10; Dolly Varden Live at Schubas 4/24/03 gets a 9/10. And as penance, I listed to The Panic Bell again. Still didn't like it. Very dirgelike.
Remember: Dangerously Thin; Time For Me To Leave; 1000 Men Like Cigarettes; Disappear; and Trying To Live Up (one of the best rock songs ever recorded)? Well, you won't find much of that on The Panic Bell. I don't imagine the band's multi-year hiatus between albums was a particularly great idea. I do, however, find the title, The Panic Bell, (possibly intentionally) ironic.
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