Album Review
Dear and the Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy... Album Cover

Dear and the Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy...

Reviewed by
Dear and the HeadlightsSmall Steps, Heavy Hooves
Release Date: February 6, 2007
Record Label: Equal Vision Records

I receive a lot of albums in the mail. Some of which are generally ignored due to a poor public relations tactics and others because the music is terribly formulaic in its genre. Neither of these were the case when I received a more than thick package from Dear and the Headlights bassist Chuckie Duff. Expecting a full-length and you're run-of-the-mill press kit, from the envelope poured out dozens of local and national press clippings, show reviews and features on the Phoenix-based quintet . Reading material; I like reading material. Tangled in the truckload of papers were two CD-R's. Awesome. Because I love it when a band is really serious about their music. Serious enough to throw two tracks on two separate CDs. Awesome.

Sarcasm aside, I took the bait and bit.

Wow. Thank you.

Dear and the Headlights—rounded off with Ian Metzger (vocals, guitar), Joel Marquard (vocals, guitar, keys), PJ Waxman (vocals, guitar) and Craigslist drummer Mark Kulvinskas—are able to execute an album that most indie snob rockers would sell their Dinosaur Jr. vinyl discography for. One part tonic What separates Dear and the Headlights from every other SXSW competitor is that this is their first

So who the hell are these guys? What’s the music like? The 53-minute, 13-track album proves to cover a multitude of ranges. Shaky vocals, like Conor Oberst, but more sober and controlled; elementary yet folliless percussions with figurative guitars set to chill bones through an indie/southern comfort feel. How's it come across altogether? Metzger’s lyrics tend to bounce while twining each song through daydreams (“Skinned Knees & Gapped Teeth”), wishes and love’s qualms (“Sweet Talk”). Lyric segments tend to be repeated and echoed while not losing the integrity of the song. The narrow-mouthed moan stands well through most songs although his range is well-defined through the entire album. Every guitar allows a layer of DATH’s whiskey sour feel to come through clear-cut picks and riffs and Kulvinskas’ percussions shelve the album into a trophy case worthy to brag about.

The opening track “Oh No!” is a lively entry into what to expect; varying tempos and heightened instrumentals stir the folk rock into an amalgamation of modern rock genres. “Hallelujah” is a reminiscent melody that is built on delicate guitar picking and subtle bass tones and dives through memories of a loved one. Likewise, Metzger muses himself once more and wishes his childhood were the present time with "Mother Make Me Golden" with a steady increased tempo allowing for a burst of yelps in the end. A more fun, upbeat track "I'm Bored, You're Amorous" excites the vocalwork even more, in so tickling the guitars introducing subtle, energetic keyboards. A personal favorite for myself is "Skinned Knees & Gapped Teeth,” mainly because of the childish reference to using technology to do things our parents wouldn't ever approve of (on, and the Thundercats reference).

Bob Hoag (The Format, Limbeck) controlled the reigns of Small Steps, Heavy Hooves and does nothing to distract from the inventive quality that Dear and the Headlights began with. No distracting movie quotes. No ambient environments. The album stays raw for the most part (considering that Ian Metzger’s voice grabs a short digitized echo in the bridge of “Run In The Front”). Whether you’re a fan of the southern sound or a fan of indie rock, Dear and the Headlights go well beyond welding the two together. Enjoy!

Small Steps, Heavy Hooves. Big Imprint.

I'm like a paper cup with a pin prick.
You can fill me up, I'll only stay full for a while.
And wisdom's only shown me
that my loneliness is all my fault
And it's all my fault.
And I don't know what I have done wrong.

To listen to the entire album click here.
This review is a user submitted review from Gabe Gross. You can see all of Gabe Gross's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 32
12:55 AM on 02/06/07
Blake Solomon
every outcome's such a comedown
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
i respect this review.
12:57 AM on 02/06/07
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01:36 AM on 02/06/07
Registered User
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I dont really get a southern feel from this album, but what do I know, I agree with the score...small gripe with this is that i like the demo of "sweet talk" more than the album version, oh well.
03:49 AM on 02/06/07
I'm a slave to the details.
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eternalthings's Avatar
Amazing band, this album is definitely worth the money. Buy it off iTunes and you receive a finalized version of Telemarket Mishap as a bonus track.
06:59 AM on 02/06/07
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No Avatar Selected
A good album. The first and last new song are great. My only problem is "Sweet Talk" seems to be missing the punch it had from the demo cd's and "Telemarket Mishap "didn't make the final album which to me is a huge travesty. "Its Getting Easy" and especially "Mother Make Me Golden" sound a lot better than they did on the demos.
07:02 AM on 02/06/07
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No Avatar Selected
Amazing band, this album is definitely worth the money. Buy it off iTunes and you receive a finalized version of Telemarket Mishap as a bonus track.

Any idea where I can find a copy of "TElemarket Mishap" w/o buyingh the album off i-tunes. I thought the band had told me on myspace a while ago this song would make the album. Imagine my disappointment to not find it on the album itself.
07:09 AM on 02/06/07
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Beyondclarity's Avatar
First I've heard these guys...I rather enjoy. I needed a slightly louder indie-rock record to compliment the new shins record. I LOVE "Wincing..." but sometimes it's too slow for my mood. This will compliment those moments just fine.
07:41 AM on 02/06/07
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johnarelions's Avatar
I love this album, and the Thundercats reference.
08:32 AM on 02/06/07
Ragin Cajun
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traumalikerain's Avatar
Great review, and this is a great album. 2007 has turned out to be a good year for good indie records like this, small leaks sink ships, and the shins.
09:06 AM on 02/06/07
im 2*Sweet
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i listened to this last week on a whim, and it was definitely the best whim i have had in a while. I love this album and i am sure my last.fm will soon reflect that
09:08 AM on 02/06/07
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petey536's Avatar
Good review, I definitely want to check this out now
09:24 AM on 02/06/07
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deadenddecember's Avatar
definitely planning on picking this one up this week. this band deserves all the support they can get.
10:30 AM on 02/06/07
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LittleHeart7's Avatar
fantastic cd... i love every moment of it
11:13 AM on 02/06/07
and then what happens?
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spansen's Avatar
i love d&th. i preordered the cd, and i'm really hoping it's here today, or at least tomorrow. i've been a fan for a while, they're nice dudes, and willing to take the time to respond to those who message them. cool guys.

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