Essential New Music: Dean Ween Group’s “The Deaner Album”

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Per its title, The Deaner Album is a chummy, accessible record, its occasional forays into lyrical wigginess leavened by straight-up arrangements and song structures. Mickey Melchiondo’s first record as titular frontman is a wild assortment of styles and forms, from Southern prog rock (“Dickie Betts”) to country (“Tammy”) to metal (several) to funk. It’ll be no surprise to longtime fans that the quality of the guitar playing is first-rate—the album-closing cover of Funkadelic’s “The Doo Doo Chasers” is a particularly virtuosic moment. But the record’s original compositions are eminently rewarding on their own terms. As Ween so often did, Melchiondo wraps some of the best, wittiest elements of the music inside the most insistently lunkheaded ones: “Bundle Of Joy” or “Charlie Brown,” laddish as they sound at first pass, contain lyrical turns and melodic syncopation that’ll crack you up when you catch them. Worth a listen, for Ween fans and armchair guitar heroes alike.

—Eric Waggoner

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