Unconcerned with your pretentious titles, Deaner Rock2 is far from your dad’s dad-rock record, but quenches all the same thirsts while cranking even harder. A good start is a stylized cover, so the album begins with “Showstopper” by Iron Knowledge, and from the get-go, Rock2 establishes a shred-soaked musical space that Mickey Melchiondo, also known as Dean Ween, has made his brown bed in. Apart from the man himself, The Dean Ween Group is hardly ever the same line-up as the last time you saw them. The most common guest players are Ween bandmates Claude Coleman Jr., Dave Dreiwitz, and Glenn McClelland, although the album and live shows also feature Mike Dillon, Joe Kramer, Kid Funkadelic (Michael Hampton), Bill Fowler, Ray Kubian, Adam Weiner, and many others. The album feels much more like a photo album in the sense of the word, in the way that scrapbooks are full of memories and experiences with friends. Mickey himself referred to the record as a “snapshot of the fall of 2016.”
During the second track, “Fingerbangin’,” one can’t help but imagine Mickey singing with his index under his nose, sniffing hard and reminiscing of good ol’ dirty times. The baritone sax really captures the grungy mood of the song, similar to that of New Orleans’ Morning 40 Federation’s sound, a group he could have easily stumbled upon in his time spent there.
“Don’t Let the Moon Catch You Cryin’” is a juicy surprise for Ween fans keeping up with Deaner. The song was originally recorded during the Quebec demos and finally has some solid representation as well as reworked lyrics. The guitar-driven “Waste Station 9” follows and points out that Deaner’s record doesn’t need verses when it’s got plenty of raw, ear-ripping solos instead. Appropriately paired with the concept of Ween acid-waste, there’s a nice amount of Mickey’s Jimi Hendrix influence present in the whimsical space rock tune.
After biding your time waiting for the shuttle that left you behind, Deaner lifts your spirits with the triumphantly celtic “Love Theme from Skinheads Kicking Your Ass.” A catchy, galloping guitar riff, broken up only by shouts of “Oi,” provides a clear image of the song as the anthem to a bit of violence and mischief. And, despite Mickey’s claimed abhorrence of the Ween sea-shanty “The Blarney Stone,” “Love Theme…” seems to have a bit of a shanty-esque aura, and would undoubtedly go well with a stiff drink. “Someone Greased the Fatman” brings up unresolved emotions toward a message once brought by Sancho, but the jam within lends a funky hand to your hips.
Perhaps why he’s been so inclined to jam lately, Mickey has a real knack for busting out grooves that you’d be happy with jiving to forever. “Ritz Carlton” is a perfect example. “Kindred spirits,” Mickey once said to describe himself and Mike Dillon, who is featured on the number. The smooth, epic jaunt really exhibits their mind-meld with a harmonious fusion of Mike’s unbridled vibraphone expertise and Deaner’s one-of-a-kind style.
It wouldn’t be a Dean Ween album without a relaxed, yet explosively soulful instrumental guitar exploration track. Thusly, “This Heart of Palm” delivers.
At his shows, you can’t help but laugh both with and at him. He’s a funny guy. Apart from making weird faces and voices onstage, he’s got a brutal sense of humor, which is where the songs “Yellow Pontiac” and “Pussy on my Pillow” come in. Don’t ever arrive to a Dean Ween concert in a ’93 Grand Am, as you might leave red in the face. Or, he might love that, you never know. What we do know is, like “Exercise Man” from the previous album, “Yellow Pontiac” is another great tune for you and Deaner to vent together with. Especially while driving and no one can hear you. “Pussy on my Pillow” tickles that extra special fancy with some kinky humor served up by the bartender. It's a wobbly, bluesy number that ends with “Fiesta”-style horns in an off-key manner cohesive with the way the lyrics might make you feel. “You remind me of my old cocker-spaniel. Her name was Jenny. We had to put her to sleep.”
Sadly, all brown things must come to and end, but a satisfying end is acceptable. “Sunset Over Belmar” immediately makes you feel right at home. Belmar, New Jersey is a place where Mickey has been known to go fishing with friends and that could very well be why the song closes with the sound of waves on the shore. He calls it his “end of the night, lullaby” song. And we couldn’t ask for a more perfect end to a long day, or end to a damn fine rock album.
The Dean Ween Group will be playing next at Eugene, Oregon’s HiFi Lounge, so if you’re walking by and you hear any noise, it’s just Dean and the boys gettin’ down.
Upcoming tour dates:
September 13th - HiFi Lounge - Eugene, OR
September 14th - Blue Lake Casino - Blue Lake, CA *With Parliament Funkadelic*
September 15th - Crystal Bay Club Casino - Crystal Bay, NV
September 16th - Sweetwater Music Hall - Mill Valley, CA
September 18th - The New Parish - Oakland, CA
September 19th - The Catalyst Club - Santa Cruz, CA
September 20th - Belly Up - Solana Beach, CA
September 21st - The Glass House Concert Hall - Pomona, CA
September 22nd - Lodge Room Highland Park - Los Angeles, CA