By Rob Duguay
When a great singer-songwriter puts out one fantastic album, it's usually the norm and most of the time it's expected. When the same singer-songwriter puts out two amazing albums on the same day, then that's taking things up to another level. Brooklyn bred musician Kevin Devine has released two magnum opuses with Bulldozer & Bubblegum, with Bulldozer being his 7th solo album while Bubblegum is a collaboration between Kevin and his touring band The Goddamn Band. Similar records with contrasts in style, Bulldozer shows Kevin at his intimately poetic best while Bubblegum is a total Nirvana-esque rocker that is one of the most energetic albums of the year. Kevin Devine is such a consistently prolific musician, I can't same a single song of his that hasn't floored me and both Bulldozer & Bubblegum prove to be his best output yet.
With Bulldozer being produced by Rob Schnapf (ElliottSmith, Guided By Voices, Saves The Day, Dr. Dog) and Bubblegum being produced by Brand New's Jesse Lacey, the quality of both albums are impeccable and pristine. The alt-pop subtleties of Bulldozer and the distorted riff fury of Bubblegum are perfect opposites with Kevin's songwriting skills being the bridge that connects both albums. It's a testament to the substance of his artistic abilities, a lot of other musicians would resort to watered down mediocre material just to fill a track but Kevin's brilliance shines through with every number. There are guys who know how to bring out their best on any given day and then there's Kevin Devine.
It's difficult enough to decide what my top tracks are off of my Album Of The Week when it's only one album, so imagine how hard it must be when I have two listen to two fantastic albums and picking a select few. It's like trying to exclaim your favorite things about the Mach 5 from Speed Racer along with The Batmobile, a very arduous task that ultimately results in being a labor of love. Compared to other things I've had to deal with lately, this should be a piece of cake. Enough with the complaining and self-degradation, here goes something:
The seismic drums and driving chords off of Bubblegum's "Somewhere Unoccupied" are so intensely loud and emphatic that it'll make the hairs leap off your forearms. When the downbeat comes to bring the guitars and drums together for the chorus in Bulldozer's "Little Bulldozer", you're bound to be knocked right out of your seat. The surf-punk anthem in Bubblegum's "Fiscal Cliff" is going to give you an electrifying shock, making you kick your feet in the air and go ridiculously insane. A folky tune with Bulldozer's "From Here" is a beautiful song that is going to give you the nostalgic feeling of missing your hometown. I know I just named a few but it just means that you just have to trust my "esteemed" opinion. You can rest your mind easy knowing that both Bulldozer & Bubblegum are excellent albums and every track will put you in a state of pure bliss.
Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band will performing atThe Space in Hamden, CT on November 23rd and at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA the following night as part of their current tour of The United States & Europe. If you're in the area for either show you definitely should go because it'll be one of the best shows you'll ever get to experience. Until Kevin Devine rolls through your neighborhood, you have to get his two new albums Bulldozer & Bubblegum. One soothes and one rocks, take the sweet with the sour and then bask in the greatness.