December 28, 2014

Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #33: Alex Dezen (of The Damnwells)

alex dezen 1

I have always said that Alex Dezen, of the beloved Brooklyn band The Damnwells, has a romantic voice.

I don’t mean that in the way we picture Valentine’s Day cards or the airbrushed bodices on paperback romance novellas. By “romantic” I am alluding to the artistic movement that wished to remove us all back to nature, to crack through the dust on our Mannerist hearts. I hear the febrile brushstrokes of light and lightning in a Turner landscape, or the kind of voice that can carry one off to war, or the high plains, or to sea.

Strong words: yep. But this is an exceptionally strong and expressive voice. One listen to these chapel sessions will introduce you, perhaps, to a voice that does the same for you. After so many years of being a fan of his songs, it was a genuine delight to have his voice fill and echo in that chapel space.

He gave us two of his newer solo songs, an old (gorgeous) gospel-tinged Damnwells tune, and a cover from one of my favorite soul artists of all time. If you want to hear more, Alex has put out a series of four intimate (Bedhead) EPs this past year, and all are worth delving deeply into. The fifth Damnwells LP is due in April 2015 on Rock Ridge Music.

alex dezen 4

ALEX DEZEN (of The Damnwells)
Shove Chapel, Colorado Springs, CO
November 22, 2013

None Of These Things

I’m not sure if this is a song about divorce, but it sure sounds like one to me. What a bittersweetly beautiful song, so simple and conflicted:

I don’t expect you to and
I don’t need you to and
I don’t wish you would
I just wish you could
I just want to sleep
While the sorrow’s cheap
But I think I hear your keys


The cover art of Dezen’s four recent acoustic EPs show him sleeping peacefully under different bedspreads, face showing no discontent. But this song sounds like the complicated bad dreams that leave us tangled up in sheets, unsure how to find our way out.

Kung Fu Grip Kiss

God, I love this song.
I love the whole record it comes from, 2006′s Air Stereo. I tell you guys every now and then that this is a sleeper record you might have missed, but it is never too late. As fully-fleshed out as this song sounds even with just Alex’s voice and a guitar in a chapel, the album version has shimmering, resonant Memphis horns and backing vocals (that I add here every time I listen to this chapel version).

I was looking for Jesus, and I wound up with you.

These Arms Of Mine (Otis Redding)

I can’t think of a better song for a classically romantic voice to wail on than this one. This is the second time someone has said, “I was thinking of covering Otis Redding?” in my chapel, and the second time I have blissfully said “OKAY.”


Alex dezen 2

[Audio recording and production by my beloved Bourgal brothers of Blank Tape Records, and photography/video by the fabulous Kevin Ihle. Thanks to Blue Microphones for the terrific consideration in giving us some sweet mics to capture this magic.]


  • Yup. Air Stereo. I think this band is one of the best gifts you have given me, Heather.

    last year's girl — December 28, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

  • Alex,
    Thank you for these recorings. Well done my friend.


    Wayne McArthur — December 28, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

  • Top notch stuff! The way Alex’s voice collides with Shove Chapel’s acoustics and is then masterfully captured by those Bourgal fellas is nothing short of stunning – especially on the Otis Redding cover.

    jimbo — December 29, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

  • unreal.

    jon — December 30, 2014 @ 12:33 am

  • These are great. I know what you mean about adding the horns to Kung Fu Grip Kiss.

    tev — December 30, 2014 @ 4:57 am

  • Thanks immensely for this, Heather, Alex’s cosmic voice evokes.

    Allison Green — January 5, 2015 @ 11:32 am

  • […] I’ve spent the last week with ‘None of These Things’ by Alex Dezen in heavy rotation. It’s simple, heartbreaking and hits close to home- I’ve lived a version of the song, as have so many of the people I care so much about. Also, it now sits atop the list of songs I somehow missed in 2014 but would like to include in my favorite songs of the year. Enjoy (and go grab the version you hear below and 3 others from his fantastic Fuel/Friends Chapel Session). […]

    ‘None of These Things’- Alex Dezen | songsfortheday — January 12, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  • Can’t wait to see the Damwells 2015 tour sites . Looking forward to catching a few of them. Want to hear more Great Music

    Mark Bollinger — January 21, 2015 @ 2:18 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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