The Dollyrots – Because I’m Awesome
By Rikki O.
Kelly Ogden (vocals, bass)
Luis Cabezas (guitar)
Chris Black (drums – current)
Amy Wood (drums – former)
Look, it would be super easy to dismiss The Dollyrots as one of those pretty pop/punk sellouts that make the kind of music that horrifies anyone with half a brain. At surface level, with the endorsements by Disney, Kohl’s department store, the HP commercials, and appearance on CSI:NY, it would be a effortless leap to the assumption that we are dealing with a vapid, ego-sized joke. But please, bear with me for just a moment.
The band was official formed on the night of the 2000 presidential election; as graduating biology students Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas watched the results come it; they declared that if the world was going to end horribly and soon, they did not want to die as med students. After moving to LA, adding drummer Amy Wood and recording “Eat My Heart Out”, they quickly garnered a great deal of buzz and was quickly picked up by Lookout!/Panic Button Records who re-released their debut cd in 2004. In 2006, Joan Jett handpicked The Dollyrots for her Blackheart Records label, where they recorded the recently released “Because I’m Awesome”, cleanly and expertly produced by Kenny Laguna, John Fields and Jacques Wait.
The Dollyrots style of power punk clearly emulate that of their mentor Joan Jett and the Blackhearts; their heart thumping, three-chord takes overlayed with sweet and sassy lyrics echo the early days of commercially viable punk while remaining completely relevant to today’s self-obsession culture. The radio-friendly title track “Because I’m Awesome” offers a clever tongue-in-cheek take on the youth-revered world we live in, where every kid gets a medal just for showing up and everybody is just two seconds away from super-stardom just for self-promoting their insipid little lives on the internet someplace. And no, I will not be convinced they are being sincere with lyrics like “I always tell you how great you smell/It’s cause I’m naturally deodorized/You’re stronger, faster, and can spell/Just look at me! Rah Rah Rah Rah”. Just because the major media has picked it up as perfectly defining the “Look At Me!” generation does not mean that The Dollyrots have not achieved something of a subversive little coup by calling us out on ourselves while delivering the message in an infectious little package.
Another stand out track for me is the fantastic cover of 70’s folk singer Melanie’s “Brand New Key”. Starting off in the same saccharine note as the original, they launch into a bounce-up-and-down power punk reinterpretation that quite frankly, kicks ass. The rather innocent lyrics about obsessing over a boy from atop a pair of roller-skates take on a naughty tone when sung by Ogden (“I don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far”) and is quite possibly my favorite song on “Because I’m Awesome”.
The Dollyrots have essentially done something rather extraordinary; offering us social commentary from directly inside of the beast itself. To delegate this album to the ‘not to be taken seriously’ cast-off bin is doing it a great disservice; if the world is indeed going to end, why not have a little fun on the way out?