Artist Home Premiere: Get Well Soon by Warren Dunes

Artist Home Premiere Record Review Uncategorized

Artist Home Premiere: Get Well Soon by Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes, looking to a brave new future. (photo courtesy Warren Dunes)

The members of Warren Dunes are three of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They’re so nice, it’d almost be annoying, except that it’s not an act. Their genuineness, and their considerable talent, inform their music in the best possible way, which makes us here at Artist Home extra-proud to premiere Get Well Soon, the Seattle trio’s first full-length album. 

Connections run deep in Warren Dunes, on musical and familial fronts. Singer/keyboardist Julia Massey previously fronted Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount, while drummer Dominic Cortese provided the backbeat. Both fill the same shoes in Warren Dunes, with guitarist/vocalist Jared Cortese—Massey’s husband—rounding out the lineup (the Cortese brothers also comprise the indie-pop duo, Electric Nono). 

Massey and the Corteses have been fine-tuning Warren Dunes’ brand of self-described post-modern beach music for about four years, and they’ve damn near perfected it on Get Well Soon. The band’s warmth nicely contrasts their welcome idiosyncrasies, with Massey’s burbling keys and Jared’s silky guitar work boasting a bounciness that wouldn’t be out of place on an AM radio in the ‘70s. 

There’s a sense of bright sunniness to many of the melodies here, particularly on the fun shuffle of “Cool Mom” and the perkily funky “Count on Me.” But the smiles and buoyancy on Get Well Soon feel refreshingly hard-won. Warren Dunes have openly stated that this album’s very much a gesture to help listeners overcome the hardships we’ve all experienced in the belly of a global pandemic, and the band’s smart enough to know that rising above those adversities hasn’t been a cakewalk. 

The poppy swing of “Be Good” is laced with some bracingly honest lyrics (“Why would you be good to someone who’s bad to you/to somebody whose job it is to be good to you?”). And beneath its buoyant surface, “Count on Me” serves as the most resolute of emotional life preservers thrown to a troubled loved one (“Yeah the world keeps turning, but your fire’s still burning/Won’t you learn to count on me?”).

Massey remains one of the PNW’s most distinctive vocalists. She sings with enough frenetic percussiveness to dance impressively around and alongside Dominic’s often-jaw-dropping timekeeping on “Talking About the Burden,” the record’s opener. At other points throughout Get Well Soon, her vocals possess a low-key charm that brings to mind the deadpan, lilting beauty of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan. And the self-harmonizing deployed on the short but mesmerizing “Tether” even suggests Abba fronting an extra-moody Beatles tune.

Best of all, the trio boasts the seasoned chops of a jam band, and the good taste not to let their considerable virtuosity overcome a nifty pop hook. The dazzling and tricky time signatures on “Quit Takin a Side” work to serve, not overwhelm, Jared’s soaring guitar and Massey’s precisely chanting, ascendingly lovely vocals. And “Fishbowl” likewise enchants, contrasting its complex tempo shifts with some haunting, dub-informed guitar and Massey’s wistful, restless singing. 

It’s never too early to start planning the perfect playlist for Summer 2021, a compilation that brings the good vibes even as it keeps your eyes and heart focused on taking control of the future. Get Well Soon serves up more than a few ideal prospects for that compilation—a good three months ahead of schedule. 

Get Well Soon goes on sale on Bandcamp today.

Tony Kay

Tony Kay