Release Date: Jun 10, 2016
Record label: Infinity Cat Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Beginning with the triumphant fanfare of "Hard Style," Diarrhea Planet's sophomore full-length album, 2016's Turn to Gold, rolls forth like a stoner rock take on Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run being blasted out the windows of a dragon mural-encrusted boogie van. The album follows up the goofily named Nashville outfit's breakthrough 2013 effort, I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (and 2014 EP Aliens in the Outfield), and finds the band picking up where that album left off with a batch of exuberant, wild-eyed rockers that are equal parts Dinosaur Jr., Cheap Trick, and Van Halen. Primarily, Turn to Gold feels like a more tightly focused and edited production than the somewhat overstuffed I'm Rich.
Diarrhea Planet’s Turn To Gold opens with an introduction worthy of grandiose stadium show entrances. “Hard Style” begins slowly, with the military march of a rolling snare. But then the guitars come in—one after another—wailing the same line in three-part harmonic glory, until the final six-string enters with soaring bends. It’s downright patriotic for anyone who pledges allegiance to state of rock ‘n’ roll.
At the end of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, our heroes have just defeated evil robot versions of themselves and an evil gym teacher from the future. See, in the future their band Wyld Stallyns are credited with bringing peace on earth with their ripping guitar solos. It’s at this moment that they realize that they still don’t know how to play.
It is my belief that any band that has four guitar players and names themselves Diarrhea Planet must have some appreciation for the cheese of cock rock and the theatricality of the '70s. If you've ever listened to this six-piece garage rock group from Nashville, you'd know this is not much of a "belief" so much as it is a cold, hard fact. It is important to point out that Diarrhea Planet is not mocking this bombastic form of rock; instead, they are embracing it with open arms and believing in its transient power to change the world.
When asked recently about Diarrhea Planet’s ambitions for their new album, guitarist Jordan Smith fantasized about a Grammy win, saying it would be "the biggest practical joke on the music industry of all time. " Whether or not that’s really his dream, it comes at a pivotal moment for his cringe-inducingly named band. At a certain point in the telling of a long joke, the audience needs to know the punchline–so when will Diarrhea Planet reveal theirs? On their third record, Turn to Gold, it feels like either the band has taken their schtick too far or their commitment to it hasn’t gone far enough.
I need to preempt this by saying Iâ€™ve never seen Diarrhea Planet live. Iâ€™ve heard they are undeniably one of the best bands touring right now. Their last record Iâ€™m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, which I enjoyed, never captured the â€œlive energyâ€ Iâ€™d heard so much about. Unfortunately, Iâ€™m not sure Turn to Gold does either.But it is extremely enjoyable.
What kind of a lifespan can a band named Diarrhea Planet expect to have? The Nashville sextet’s second album, 2013’s I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, sought to buck surface expectations and skeptical eyebrows with a series of glitzy, ’70s-style solos, Joey Ramone-in-KISS-paint vocals, and Super Soaker pop-punk riffs. Its relatively polished follow-up, Turn to Gold, instead wants to ascend out of the take-nothing-seriously slophouse and demonstrate the sort of advancement expected of a band that’s been together for seven years. In order to do that, the quadruple-guitar-toting six-piece experiment with cleaner production (courtesy of the Grammy-winning studio guru Vance Powell), sincere singing rather than bratty chanting, and lengthier tracks (behold the epic eight-minute closer, “Headband”).
The Nashville garage-rock sextet with one of the worst band names in the business broke out in 2013 with I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, as fans and critics alike took a liking to the band's endearing sense of fun and exorbitance that added sizzle to their thoughtful and studious songwriting. Combining fuzzy alt-rock like Japandroids, over-the-top flair like KISS, roaring heavy metal like Motörhead and poppy punk like the Ramones, the band regretfully known as Diarrhea Planet are now a growing force owing to their talent and lively spirit. It's easy to forget that Diarrhea Planet were, and in many ways still are, based on a running joke — for better and for worse.
OK, first, knock one back and Pop Out ? alright, pour one out and Pop Out ? then take this pill and Pop Out ? now, light one up and Pop Out ? wait, finish that music theory homework and Pop Out ? OK, dog-ear that Kundera and Pop Out ? lastly, hats off and Pop Out ? OK, now check this out: Pop Out ? Wait. What happened? OK. Sorry. OK.
Diarrhea Planet is a, er, shitty name, but the feeling you get from listening to the Nashville sextet's raucous six-string worship is the opposite of what you'd expect from the band's nauseating moniker. Their scorching third album finds them older and wiser but still full of the joy that's made audiences fall in love with them despite their name. Their motto could be "more guitar" - they have four of them - and Turn To Gold is all about that.
Whenever it seems like the glowingly smooth, wax-slick electro-pop trend of the past dozen years might finally be coming to a close, some new act emerges, programs a beat, plunks out an earworm on a synthesizer, and extends the lifeline of the stylistic status quo. The longer this state of affairs persists, however, the more Diarrhea Planet—a name that never sits easy no matter how familiar one gets with it—doubles down on pushing the antithesis. Turn To Gold’s overwhelming sound is still guitar (and, yes, there are still four of them), but the record isn’t just another dizzying tornado of distortion; rather, it showcases the versatility of the band’s shred-and-strum-and-shout approach.