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July 22, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
*CORRECTION: Goodnight to the World is Dax Riggs' second solo album. An earlier version of this article misstated that this was his first solo album.
For a second solo* release, Dax Riggs’ Say Goodnight to the World lacks an identity crucial for building a stable listening audience from the get-go. Standard blues rhythms in one track nearly contrast cool psychedelic tones in another. Riggs’ low yet milky singing hardly stays the same through clear tones and reverb effects. A hodgepodge of sounds pay homage to various artists including U2, Tom Waits and Beck. Despite the lack of consistency, Say Goodnight to the World puzzles like a cross word waiting to be figured out.
“I Hear Satan” is a simple tune that swirls as slow as smoke in that cool rock ’n’ roll fashion. It adds a psychedelic touch with a faint but playful guitar incorporating enough color to make the song hold interest. Riggs maintains his temper in “You Were Born To Be My Gallows” by keeping every instrument, including his voice, to a bare minimum to keep that ’60s psychedelia.
Some tracks stand out because of their misplaced personality. “Gravedirt On My Blue Suede Shoes” captures the dirt-under-the-fingernails appeal mastered by Queens of the Stone Age. “Like Moonlight” and “Sleeping With The Witch” ring too similar to melancholy tunes found on Beck’s Sea Change. Riggs adds pop in “No One Will Be A Stranger” that strikes with vocal harmonies and back rhythms awfully reminiscent of U2. But the most surprising homage found on Say Goodnight to the World is Riggs’ cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” which weeps in measures half the size and intensity of the original composition.
Together, these tracks fail to compose a consistent package and instead arrange a collage of random songs attributed to the most recent playlist on Riggs’ iPod. Not until “Let Me Be Your Cigarette” does Riggs finally start the party in his own manner. The track starts with a fat, heavy riff, which is perhaps the best and smoothest of the whole record. But this song seems almost too short at 2:48 compared to others that surpass three minutes. What this song holds isn’t just a compact sweetness, though — it upholds Riggs’ heavy metal past.
Riggs weaves in and out among various audiences and doesn’t stop long enough to pique interest. If Riggs wants to see the success of a second full-length, he’ll need to convince the blues aficionados, the psychedelic junkies or the contemporary rock ’n’ rollers to tune in next time.
VVV — Borrow a friend’s copy