In listening to the recent EP, Chicago Bowls, by Dikembe, I was immediately struck by the basketball references implied not only by the name of the band, but also the weed pun track listing of the album. Each song is named after a former Chicago Bulls player, and they consist of “Scottie Spliffen” “Luc Bongley” “Michael Jordank” and “Tony Kukush” respectively. With the NBA finals starting this evening, it seems only fitting to be reviewing an album that refers to James Naismith’s famous game. Yet, upon placing my headphones over my ears I was surprised by the content of Chicago Bowls. Whereas I had expected some sort of stoner epic that was a tribute to the mighty Bulls teams of the 1990’s, what I got was a pop punk record without any lyrical reference to the four dudes that are named in the song titles. While this was not necessarily a bad thing, I’ll admit that I was thoroughly excited at the prospect of hearing a song about marijuana and MJ.
Chicago Bowls begins with the aforementioned “Scottie Spliffen,” and while it most definitely has a great title, the track is nothing special. It begins with some gently played guitar, before transitioning into a crashing verse that very much fits into a loud / quiet dynamic that holds true throughout the album. Later on “Luc Bongley” the band continues their giant thrashing while occasionally slowing down to add some more distortion and sing, “I’m afraid / I’m afraid / of making any sound / when anyone’s around.” These were unfortunately some of the few lyrics that I could decipher during my listen, as the vocals on the album are very low in the mix, and are sometimes difficult to hear. Understanding what a singer is saying during a song is not always necessary, but when I’m hoping to hear a post rock ganja jam about the first Australian player in the NBA, it would be nice to be able to hear the vocals.
Rounding out the end of the EP are “Michael Jordank” and “Tony Kukush.” The former name checks the best basketball player ever, and is fittingly the best track on the record. It begins with some intriguing drum fills and plaintive guitar strumming before erupting into cymbal bashing verse. Later around the 2 minute mark there are some sloppy flourishes of distorted sound that are the most promising musical offering of the Florida based band.
Chicago Bowls is a somewhat mediocre EP, but Dikembe definitely has a future. They are a band that could pack small venues, and perhaps even score a hit with the alternative rock crowd. Yet, this initial offering would have benefited from a few more hooks for listeners, and perhaps more carefully considered lyrical content. If a song is named “Scottie Spliffen” I want to hear about one of the greatest small forwards of all time puffing a gigantic doobie, not some unintelligible emo howling. I know the titles are meant to be funny, but wouldn’t that be awesome?