What’s that I feel creeping up behind me when I turn on the stereo? It’s an ominous black shadow cast over everything in my sight. I can’t slow down, but I can’t run away from it either – there’s no escape. But in the terror and the anticipation, I at least take comfort in knowing – I’m not alone. This is the best attempt I can muster to try and give you an idea of the tone that brooding singer/songwriter Alex Dingley and his brilliant band set on their enigmatic new single, “Not Alone in the Dark,” a fresh cut from his new album Beat the Babble. If his name and face look a little familiar to you, that’s because Alex has been hard to avoid if you’re a fan of college radio and independent music. He might have a lot of buzz around him, but none of it, and I mean none of it, has done him justice for what is accomplished on Beat the Babble.
When effective, independent singer/songwriters create emotion and charisma out of the plain and mundane. Alex Dingley’s Welsh howl is much more sincere than his counterparts in American garage punk. Not since Dax Rigg’s brilliant post-Acid Bath acoustic recordings have I personally heard so much of the folk lexicon be interwoven into fierce punk rock beats. When I first listened to “Not Alone in the Dark” and watched the accompanying music video on YouTube, I didn’t quite know what genre to place on this song. It shakes and rattles like an old car, but that car runs more solid than anything else on the road. I really don’t recall the last time I heard much finer production on a deep underground indie release, either, and Samur Khouja delivers everything I could want and more in this packaging without falling into any traps of pretentiousness.
Beat the Babble has already sold out on vinyl with a lot of vendors, but it’s available for digital download everywhere online, including Amazon.com, and I highly recommend streaming this one as soon as you can. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen quite a bit of strife in independent music, as record stores have fought to stay open amid changes in the market, indie venues have fallen victim to the politics of municipalities and their corrupt attempts to stifle DIY artists, and songwriters have been exploited for their contributions to the art community for little to no compensation. The business has gotten more business-like, and the sense of community and comradery that once set our scene apart from others now feels like a thing of the past. It is a godsend to have artists like Alex Dingley putting out great music right now, when it feels like the chokehold on the uncut, untamable free spirits is at its worst.
For more information on Alex Dingley, check out his artist pages on BBC Music and YouTube, as well as his official website dingleydingley.com, where you can also keep up to date on future live gigs.