Last week, while browsing through shelves packed to the gills with old CDs in WTGB’s studio anteroom—a chamber amicably dubbed the “womb room”—I came across a stray radio relic: a WGTB Record Review Slip. Before WGTB went big time with our infiltration of the Internet, we had a quaint system of writing a few comments and an overall grade for each album on a post-it which would then be slipped into the CD case and tucked away on a shelf, rarely—if ever—to be dusted off and spun once more. Every once in a while, however, when I am late for class or have a huge paper due and need to find a great way to procrastinate, I like to go into the womb room and peruse the vast collection that is our Rotation.
Usually the CDs are arranged alphabetically, with a little orange sticker on the side of each jewel case denoting the year of the album’s release. However, because WGTB doesn’t have a personalized librarian (yet), sometimes things can get out of order. In fact, I kind of like things that way, because if they weren’t I may never have stumbled upon the lone, lost Review Slip which read:
“Artist: dios / Title: dios / Sounds like: Indescribable / Other comments: Very cool. So good that I can’t describe it. Very dark.”
“Indescribable … So good that I can’t describe it.” I quickly scanned the records for the “Ds” and sure enough, there was the review’s namesake. I whipped out my laptop and popped dios into my disk drive. Honestly, did I have a choice?
Nothing against “Nas,” the former WGTB Music Board member who previously rated the album, but I wouldn’t necessarily call dios “indescribable.” “Very cool” and “good,” for sure, but I think that all it takes to describe the album is a list of band’s inspirations. dios’s strength lies in the way they filter 60s rock influences through their own indie lens, merging tributes to the Beach Boys, Elliot Smith, and Neil Young to create a charming, West Coast, almost psychedelic sound. The laid-back, youthful sense of freedom in catchy riffs like “Starting Five” and “You Make Me Feel Uncomfortable” are smooth and familiar, evoking a spectrum of perfectly tuned, sincere adolescent emotions. Simultaneously accessible and profound, dios is unpretentious, easy-going, and full of potential.
So why hadn’t I ever heard of these guys? A quick Google search revealed that since 2004 dios has released three albums, all of which have sucked. They did have a track featured on the O.C. in 2005, but the coup de grace came when Italian-American heavy metal musician Ronnie James Dio sued the band for trademark infringement. After an arduous legal battle, the band rolled over in more ways than one, adding a parenthetical “(malos)” to their name and a less parenthetical element of banality to their sound. By the time dios (malos?) reverted back to the original one-word name in 2009, it was too late—nobody cared.
dios (malos?!) isn’t the first band to peak in their debut album, but it is sad to listen to how good dios is and know that the band’s energy would only go on to stagnate out there in middle-of-the-road rock oblivion. Lead singer Joel Morales seems to have predicted dios’s fate in “The Uncertainty of How Things Are,” when he asks the prophetic question, “If you saw me now / would you still believe in me / or run away?” I’m glad I found dios and I wouldn’t run away if they decided to put out another album, but it would have to be pretty special for me to believe in them again.
– Emma Forster, co-host of Regional Rotations: The Next Generation, Wednesdays 3-4pm on WGTB