Itching big time to unleash a fresh batch of material come Summer 2019, “irresponsibly eclectic” rocker David Alpha found a clever and insightful way to take stock of his multi-faceted career to date – which includes earning commercial airplay and critical acclaim for his two bands, The Fons and the Dharma Bums and numerous solo albums.
He started last fall with the release of Rockin’ Roulette – a dynamic compilation showcasing the lighter side of his songwriting and artistry. That set featured the singer and guitarist’s trademark “Sacrilege,” a co-write with East Bay Ray (Dead Kennedys) that’s been featured on Sirius XM’s Underground Garage. Alpha’s upcoming companion 14 track compilation takes us further into his Chameleon Wheelhouse for a wild spin through the decidedly and delectably darker and more musically esoteric side of his catalog. He’s offering a sneak preview of the collection with a new 3 track EP featuring several of the songs that he has already posted on his Bandcamp page. (https://davidalpha.bandcamp.com/).
In Review: Chameleon Wheelhouse by David Alpha reminds me of the angst driven fury of the 80’s pop / punk scene in NYC, I recall going to the clubs and seeing acts that had so much to say, and in this album, there is much to be heard. like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the fathers of the “anti-pathetics“, using a new vocabulary to express their dissent and cal to revolution, David Alpha brings it back home, serving up some humble pie to the regime, a pie full of crow, still squawking and un-plucked, feathers and all. this is great EP that is something to be respected.
Alpha shares the electric and acoustic extremes of his material on a six minute track incorporating the aggressive rock ferocity of “Light the Rockets” and “Hungry Ghost,” which matches his hard-edged vocals with “Cleveland” Dave Matthews’ raw acoustic guitar strumming. The singer’s always abstract lyrics leave much to the listener’s interpretation, but he explains that “Light the Rockets,” despite its rumble and blister vibe, is an exhortation to live life fully and freely, let our wild side out and “light the rockets of fate and watch them fly.” “Hungry Ghost” offers a metaphor for pain, an awakening that finds one questioning religious teachings in the face of suffering and being cold and alone.
Although Alpha has always been an electric guitarist, fans get a tasty glimpse of his stark approach to the acoustic on “Wake Up Gloria,” a clarion call to re-awaken the long moribund spirit of classic rock featuring opening chords straight from Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” released by the legend’s band Them in 1964. “Me and Him” is a trippy, mood shifting (mid-tempo cool to fiery) rocker featuring playful electric guitar distortion as backdrop to an abstract rendering of a shaky relationship in which the protagonist suspects there’s someone else in the picture. Rock and roll rage has rarely been expressed as powerfully as Alpha does when he belts “He looks down like a punk in a wasteland!” over and over.
David’s journey in and out and ultimately back to music is one many indie artists can relate to and be inspired by. Even after breaking through the commercial radio barrier with songs like “The Likes of You” and “No Fade to Gray,” his mounting frustration with the ups and downs of his life in music prompted him to return to grad school, where he eventually earned Master’s degrees in English and journalism. He put his talent for wordsmithing to great use, working over the years as a college instructor, magazine editor and public information writer for the University of Tampa, all while publishing short fiction and poetry and writing articles for the Chicago Sun-Times and other top newspapers.
Pleased to share his artistry and history with newer fans who may have been unfamiliar with his earlier works, Alpha is focused full steam ahead on new songs that will lay a foundation for the next phase of his amazing career. “I’ve already demo’d some of them, but they will all take on different flavors when I bring in the band, and I’m excited to watch how they develop,” he says. “The new material will be more blues and Americana tinged than anything I have done before, but I’m still going to have those trademark edges. There will be songs about life, death, peering into darkness and being fearless – all typical themes for me but presented in a whole new way. I’m also happy to say that thanks to listening a lot lately to Mark Lanagen, my voice is definitely getting bluesier as well!”
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