in CAT

C.A.T.: Stands For Decibels

The dB’s – Stands For Decibels (1981)

It’s fitting that last week John did The Feelies’ Crazy Rhythms for a CAT, because whenever I listen to that album I almost always feel like listening to The dB’s debut as a sort of geeky double feature.  I guess these two albums just always remind me of each other because besides being released around the same time, they both embody this jittery brand of nerd-rock that I just find really irresistible.

The biggest difference between these bands has to do with the fact that The dB’s sound is much more indebted to the power-pop genre, while The Feelies’ sound was bent more towards kinetic noodling.  The dB’s certainly have their more avante-garde moments on Stands For Decibels with songs like “She’s Not Worried” and “Tearjerkin'”, which were written by singer/guitarist Chris Stamey.  However Pete Holsapple’s songs in particular, as well as the album as a whole displays a true knack for classic pop songwriting, which is matched wonderfully by the band’s willingness to bash the songs out with much gusto.

I guess it makes sense that The dB’s were fairly misunderstood in their time, as that seems to be the case for most of the great power pop bands, be it Big Star or The Defenestrators.  The early eighties were marked by the post-punk and hardcore bands that were thriving in music’s underground while new wave was thriving in the top 40, and The dB’s didn’t really fit into either of those movements though they certainly show faint traces of the latter.  But it does often seem like the bands that are most enjoyable to listen to in hindsight are the ones that kind of just did their own thing, and didn’t tie themselves to any particular trend.

Favorite Tracks: “Black And White”, “Big Brown Eyes”, “I’m In Love”