Record Review - 2 May 27 2004

It is rumored that Hawthorne, Calif.-based quintet dios' debut album was bankrolled by selling bootleg copies of the Beach Boys' infamously fragmented, aborted "masterpiece" Smile on eBay. But it's hard to imagine the band members spent much time actually listening to the Beach Boys' lost LP. Truth be told, while dios may aim for the earnest, concise melodies of the Beach Boys, the shambolic music purveyed is closer in spirit to L.A. cosmo-combo the Beachwood Sparks' slow-motion brand of country-tinged stoner rock.

Dios' self-titled debut suffers from perhaps being too lackadaisical at times, too enveloped in the thick haze of bong smoke. Whereas the band's other obvious musical heroes, Grandaddy, also mine similarly spacey pop nuggets, dios' compositions lack Grandaddy's sense of adventure and euphoria, as the songs rarely manage a tempo speedier than a leisurely stroll. Granted, there are some moments of subtle splendor. "All Said & Done," with its delicately ascending keyboard lines and vinyl pops, most effectively evokes the oft-mentioned but rarely realized Beach Boys parallels. And lead singer Joel Morales' high, strained timbre in "You Make Me Feel" strikingly resembles Neil Young at his most affectingly sincere. But even these achievements are most hopelessly entangled in nostalgia.

Dios' album still feels a bit too over-baked and enamored of its own navel-gazing to sustain interest — especially unforgivable when its best moments recall ones by other artists. Why the group prefers to cash in on the catalogs of more widely known and established acts as opposed to exercising its own talents, God only knows. Dios would do well to lose the stoner shtick without sacrificing simple, unadorned elegance.

Dios plays the Earl at 9:30 p.m., Fri., May 28. $10.