Dylan Hicks: risking his neck for his brother man.

by Sean McGrath

-“That boy’s got a lot of mouth of him.”

-“Yeah, and he’s man enough to back it up.”


This utterly world-toppling dialogue taken from the 1971 “romantic” detective flick, Shaft, seems to correspond to Dylan Hicks. I doubt Hicks would whole-heartedly refute the comparison to the black private dick Shaft (he is the man who would risk his neck for his brother man).

Alas, something is definitely to be said about the audacious move to include lyrics in your liner notes when cats like me are out on the scene ready to tear into them like they were a pack of Cornuts. The Cranberries and I don’t get along any more, so I should be the first to tell you: lyrics matter. They matter a whole hell of a lot.

The lyrics of Dylan Hicks are good. Actually, very good. Splicing some carefully crafted personal tidbits into unglamorous, undemanding, and often hysterical compositions, Hicks and his 88 keys punch away at the infallibility of rock guys. Hicks makes fun of himself and whittles away the stereotypes of the rocker.

The newest lovechild of Dylan Hicks, Alive with Pleasure chocks up 40 minutes with 12 songs. Each has its own little soul, but rarely are they earth-shatteringly different from the others. Hicks sings of such subjects as his best friend, his fantasy of being black and how “All the Rock Star Jobs Are Taken.” Each seems to invoke a particular era of Hicks’s life. Whether he has a great memory or just a keen sense of guile, Hicks can carve out a song that bespeaks high school frivolity or despondency.

There’s nothing Van Halenish about the music. It’s simple, low-fi, sharp and applicable. No member of the band will break into anything resembling a power solo, and when the solos do come, they’re jazzy, as if riffing in a Montmarte club somewhere, or playing for themselves rather than a room of smoke-engulfed patrons. For Hicks and his music, the appeal begins and ends with the humor. It is blasé, unmoved wit seems to overpower all else. The extrapolative potency of the Hicks vibe is “man enough” (i.e. a cat that won’t cop out) for him to have a comfortable place in the highly coveted “rock scene.” Even if he thinks it’s a joke.

Dylan Hicks plays Saturday at the 7th St. Entry (701 First Ave. N. 612-338-8388). Divorcee, Henry and Latch Hook open. 8 p.m. $5/$6. 21+.