Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I first discovered The Dexateens around 2008 or so. I was listening to the Drive By Truckers on ITunes or maybe it was Napster when it was legal. I got one of those recommendations, you know the ones, if you like the Drive By Truckers…..you may like this. Normally those recommendations are garbage, as they would recommend The Carpenters or Ambrosia. This time, however, they were spot on. I remember listening to Hard Wire Healing, their 2007 release, and literally my jaw dropped. They were spectacular. My first thought was, how come these guys aren’t bigger? Some time passed and Singlewide was released in 2009. Another great release. A little less frenetic than Hard Wire Healing but every bit as good. Solid song writing and playing were evident from the opening to closing note. I wanted to see these guys live. I would bring earplugs because I am guessing they play loud. Then in 2011, they were gone. They took either a sabbatical or officially broke up. Call it what you will. I was disappointed for sure.
I get it though. Life happens. People get married and have kids and start careers. It doesn’t exactly coincide with the life of a touring band on the road. I really didn’t have any hopes that these guys would get back together. Added to that, their bass player Matt Patton, landed a full time gig as the bass player for the Drive By Truckers. And Lee Baines, their guitar player, departed the band and started his own project. So the future of The Dexateens did not look promising. And then came Teenage Hallelujah. This album was recorded back in 2011 before the band’s break. It was the end of the Lee Baines era. But, the good news is the band is back together! They have been playing live and doing some limited touring. And Matt Patton is working 2 shifts as the bass player of The Dexateens and The Drive By Truckers.
As I listen to Teenage Hallelujah, one thing is evidently clear. This band had evolved from a noisy, sloppy (and I mean sloppy in a positive way), southern rock band into a mature southern rock band. Yes, they can still get raucous and loud, but they pick their spots. The writing is fantastic and tells stories about the southern experience. Forget about pop country. If you want to get a sense of how country folk live and think, listen to Teenage Hallelujah. Songs like Old rebel, Alabama Redneck, Boys With Knives, and Redbird Road, among others, tell vivid tales of the southern experience. It isn’t always flattering or pretty, but The Dexateens tell it like it is. This is unadulterated southern rock in its purest form. 198 proof. You can have a listen to a couple of tracks on Teenage Hallelujah here. Here is the link to buy this fine release. Welcome back boys, we missed you!