In the mid-’90s, when every other musician in the musician-rich city of Portland, Oregon, was cultivating a lo-fi sound and a low-budget look, the Dandy Warhols sounded, dressed, and acted like rock stars. In the early days they were known more for their onstage nudity and prolific partying than their music, but by the time the Dandys released Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia in 2000, their talent was undeniable. Three years later the band released the heavily electronic Welcome to the Monkey House, and their songs were all over trendy youth-TV shows — which to modern artists is what being all over the radio was to earlier generations.
Then something weird happened. DiG! — an enjoyable documentary contrasting the relatively professional Dandys with their shambolic rivals the Brian Jonestown Massacre — hit DVD players and quickly drew a following. Problem was, DiG! more or less advanced the idea that Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor will never be as weirdly compelling as BJM madman Anton Newcombe. The fact that Taylor-Taylor narrated the movie suggested that he believed it, too. He responded by releasing the weirdest Dandys album yet, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars. It was a disaster of Newcombe-like proportions.
Now the Dandys are back, doing what they do best, with Earth To the Dandy Warhols. It sounds like a sequel to Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, and that’s great. See, the thing that DiG! didn’t tell you is that, no matter what kind of tragic charm Newcombe may have, the Dandys’ professionalism has always made them not merely more commercial but better in just about every way.
DANDY WARHOLS, Belly Up, Wednesday, October 1, 8 p.m. 858-481-8140. $25.