Dommin – Mend Your Misery
It’s a weekday night in a shady part of Sunset Boulevard, far removed from the club district, in a little liquor store/laundromat shopping strip. The club is entirely black, cold – almost looking and smelling like tire rubber. It’s the scene I expect. One man with a beard and long brown hair is dressed up in an old school black and white striped prison outfit, only wearing a black top hat so you half expect him to be riding a unicycle. Then there is the guy with the neon red braids who is wearing enough studs and hooks in his ears to match his pants that resemble nothing so much as a black shower curtain. And then there’s the guy who looks like the main character in the film “Hellraiser.” He flashes me a charming smile.
I feel like I have entered an evil carnival.
I discover later that this “Hellraiser” is the lead singer of Godhead, the headliner for the night. I came here to see Dommin. He looks so much like actor Alan Cumming it makes you do a double take. He comes out in a trenchcoat with an upturned collar. The spike of his black hair points like a knife down the center of his face, concealing his eyes. I think he is channeling Eddie Munster after he ran away from home.
“Mend Your Misery” is Kristofer Dommin’s debut album. He is obviously a soon to be discovered genius as he sings, and plays both guitar and keyboard on the album AND all songs, lyrics, music and arrangements are by Dommin as well. The media is calling Dommin a “four piece LA-based ensemble” which is so silly it conjures up images of chamber music. What’s so bad about giving props to the front man?
I dig the sounds. Definitely a mix of new wave and gothic, if by gothic you are defined by a multitude of church bells, haunting choirs and possessed harpsichords. Not especially anything we haven’t heard before, but definitely more of things we’ve always loved. The hybrid is comparable to The Buzzcocks (especially on “Dying on the Radio”), The Clash and The Cure. My favorite song hands down is the lonely and romantic “Tonight.” It has an ‘80s feel to it, a radio-friendly catchy melody and chorus. Remember that song that Naked Eyes made such a big hit, "(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” which happened to be written by Burt Bacharach!? “Next Day Apologies” is almost a blatant rip off of this song, though taking a turn with a Greenday-style punk chord progression. According to Dommin’s myspace page, one of their influences is movie scores. I can definitely see Dommin becoming the next Danny Elfman or, ahem, Bacharach.
The band loves to set the scene with candelabras and roses. The songs can veer on melodramatic, but when performed live “My Heart, Your Hands,” will make you shiver. Dommin slams a bunch of roses against his guitar for an open. It is a wonderful visual experience – petals fluttering in strobe lights like you’re in a Spanish bull ring. “Without End” is also sexy. It stops and goes and reminds me of something I might expect from Tool with a Faith No More style epic ending. This song and “Drama Days” are the creepier tunes. The latter features a muted jazz riff that makes you feel like you’re in Disney’s Haunted Mansion where the ghosts dig ragtime.
My least favorite tracks on this album are the ones that take the most risks to break out of the overall style. For tracks like “One Feeling” and “The Scene” the guitar solos seem out of place within the context of the songs. Live too, you can see the unnecessary struggle to make this music edgier. Konstantine on keyboard tries as hard as he might to make the keyboard a hard rockin’ instrument by playing backwards and flipping his instrument on its side. Walking on a standing bass is cool, but this just makes me snicker because it reminds me of the keytar. For the most part though, the disparate marriage of new wave and heavier metal is working.
Dommin excels at bitter romantic epics. If you’ve just broken up with someone you will have to put this album on your “must blare while driving” list. Kristofer has a truly unique voice. Though it sounds similar to some artists, it is definitely not a direct imitation of any one in particular. I think you will know what I mean if you hear this for yourself. He can definitely sustain a note! So go check out Dommin’s web page and see what I mean!
Visit Dommin at: Dommin Official Website