New Dystopia is the new album from Los Angeles singer/songwriter and producer Rob Dobson. It’s the first under his name, and the Virginia native recorded the album in Nostromo, his home studio in Los Angeles. New Dystopia is a bleak and pessimistic alt-country album about a post-apocalyptic America where the wrong people have too much power (which is eerily easy to imagine).
The opening track “Burn Away / Jester” sets the tone musically for the whole album. The song begins with acoustic guitar and psychedelic synth flutes backed by a groovy bass line and beat. About a minute in, the song turns on its head with a hot guitar lick (Allman Brothers fans rejoice) that transitions the song to its second section. Overall, the song’s sprinkle of psychedelia on its country roots works and sets a strong foundation for the rest of the album.
The lyrics of “Burn Away / Jester” give some hints to the album’s setting (“I go outside / and I pretend I can breathe the air”), but “New Dystopia” really dives into the album’s central themes. On the catchy chorus, Dobson sings, “You’re running all the time / When the men in letters try to take control of you / now you’re living in a new dystopia.” This track features a ripping guitar solo that luckily never seems to end (again, Allman Brothers fans rejoice).
“Into Dust” is a southern rock banger. The guitar’s chord progression is rock solid, and the way the drums ebb and flow make each section of the song engaging. The bridge features a haunting lap steel solo that leads into a spacey outro guitar solo that underscores New Dystopia’s psychedelic leanings.
New Dystopia is an engaging alt-country concept album. Dobson pays homage to the greats while adding his own distinct touches that give the songs life. Some tracks lose site of the dystopian narrative Dobson wove into the album, but this does not overcome the catchy songwriting and top-notch production throughout New Dystopia.
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