by Bryce Cameron
Project Dopamine: Project Dopamine
Members: WT Lummus, Lee Santucci, Oscar Gonzales, Mike Sandoval, Jorden Catillo
It’s high time for all the neon bangled, skinny jeaned 80s revival bullshit to just die already, and Project Dopamine is exactly the kind of band to help pound the final nail into that coffin.
Rocking razorish licks and crazy sweet melodies, Project Dopamine is a Houston based band that really cooks, and their self titled debut hits the ground at full tilt.
The first track, titled 'Do it Again', barrels out of the gate like a fully bad-ass breath of fresh air, steam rolling all the bubblegum rock of recent years into a gooey mess.
Finally! A band of artists have come along who were actually old enough to appreciate the beauty of early 90s Northwest Coaster hard rock when it first exploded. A band old enough to get in, and (I’m guessing) get kicked out of, some of the greatest shows of the early 90s.
And just like the hard rockers of the early 90s that they clearly love, Project Dopamine is accessible, and catchy as hell.
From an instrumental standpoint, Project Dopamine is as tight as they come: power driven melodies will have heads banging and beer bottles breaking all across this fair country, while intricately layered instrumentation will appeal to the audiophile in every crowd (there’s always one, the guy who’s all like “oh, and listen to how they make use of the high hat on this track”).
The point is that, no matter the musical temperament, if you are a fan of sophisticated, ballsy, aggressive rock, then this is your shot of rye.
It doesn’t hurt that vocalist WT Lummus has a voice like a 300 pound, pissed off gorilla, either. Part personal experience, part artistic flare, Lummus finds ways to sneak into every dark corner of a melody and chew it into pulp.
Just hearing his voice for the first time stimulates a kind of cognitive muscle memory that conjures up (for me, that is) the sound of sifting through stacks and stacks of tapes (bought, stolen, and mixed) because you need to listen to Nazi Driver or Bleed the Freak right that instant.
Many of Project Dopamine’s songs contemplate the darkness of addiction, self doubt, dysfunction and desperation, but there is a gritty hope to be found in there, too.
Add to the fact that every musician in the band has got mad squabbles, from the gut punch drumming of Mike Sandoval to the chainsaw chops of Lee Santucci’s guitar riffs, and you end up with a leaded gas ass kicker of a debut.
The tightrope between nihilistic fury and hardcore redemption is a tough one to walk, but Project Dopamine find a way to make it all work, and seem easy. Lummus uses his voice and lyrical talents to evoke that sense of need, of despair, of searching for the light even as you feel the rocky bottom on your back.
After the tales of hard living and dubious deeds on such tracks as Do It Again and the hypnotic and tempestuous Dark Road, Jacob’s Ladder, with its biblical references and minimalist production, emerges as a kind of psalm instilled with ragged hopefulness.
You can feel the need in Lummus, and in the music. And this is the element that separates great bands from good ones, the ability to harness a cosmic truth, distill it, then release it again as a contextualized counterpoint between the soul and the universe.
Project Dopamine is a throwback album that doesn’t simply parrot its heroes. It seeks to assert itself among those greats, and for a debut, it does a pretty damn good job.
They are a band to watch, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for these cats from the Lone Star State. And I can’t wait to kick up a little dust at their first Detroit show. Rock hard, all you hard rockers!
About The Writer
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.