Dolph Chaney

Dolph Chaney

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1987 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1987
Solo Alternative New Wave




"babysue April 2021 reviews (THIS IS DOLPH CHANEY - Top Pick)"

babysue TOP PICK:

"Look out pop music fans. Dolph Chaney's back. And this time he's hit one totally out of the ballpark. Chaney impressed lots of folks with his last release (Rebuilding Permit). That album had a great deal of unique charm, and lots of folks really loved the simple stripped down sound. When I first heard that Chaney had gone for a more polished studio sound this time around, I was kinda concerned. Would the elements that were appreciated so much last time remain intact? Well, hell, the answer is YES. All those elements are still there...but now they've been upped several notches. For this humorously-titled album Dolph teamed up with Nick Bertling (of Bertling Noise Laboratories) and together the two created a modern pop masterpiece. These songs have a much more punchy percussive sound than the last album. But the reason the new approach seems to work so well is probably because of the choice of material. These songs are ultra strong and memorable. And there are no clunkers to be found, period. Several are like mental glue, impossible to get out of your head once you hear them. Even Chaney's voice sounds more focused and gripping. Whereas Rebuilding Permit reminded me of folks like Scott Miller and Alex Chilton, This Is Dolph Chaney reminds me more of The Raspberries at times (and coming from me that's a huge compliment). All of these songs sound like potential hits, but my initial favorites include "I Wanted You," "Cuddle Party," "Pleasant Under Glass," "My Good Twin" (this one is over-the-top killer), "Worship Song" and "Graveyard Shift." If you enjoyed Chaney's music before, chances are you'll be totally blown away by this album. Smart fine-tuned pop music that is inspired and truly resilient. Highly recommended. Top pick." - babysue

"Dolph Chaney – This Is Dolph Chaney album review"

Dolph Chaney – This Is Dolph Chaney album review by Ian Canty

Big Stir


Released 20 February 2021

New album from singer songwriter Dolph Chaney, his second for Big Stir and the follow up to last year’s well-received Rebuilding Permit. This collection consists of 13 brand new recordings that were overseen by studio boffin Nick Bertling at his Bertling Noise Laboratories set up…Ian Canty finds out about the man and his music…

Dolph Chaney made his first forays into music way back in 1987, but it is only in the last few years that he has been making the kind of headway his talent warrants. After his recent (and excellent) Rebuilding Permit album from last year, his first for the Big Stir label, he’s back now with a new LP simply entitled This Is Dolph Chaney. Changes are afoot though, whereas in the past Dolph did pretty much everything on his own, on this latest collection he collaborates with Nick Bertling of Bertling Noise Laboratories, who produced the set in addition to playing various instruments too.

The man of the moment though is looking chipper if not positively suave on the cover photo. Together with the rest of the design style utilised, the sleeve brings to mind a greatest hits album, with the song titles going down the right hand side as we face it. This is actually not so far from the truth, as the selections featured find Dolph sourcing 13 songs from his back pages. These numbers were written at various times during the last 30 years with the oldest effort being Under The Overpass, which was originally conceived way back in 1991. Fortunately enough and adding to this “best of” feeling, you can pick virtually any track on the record and come up trumps with something would sound great coming out of the radio, hi fi, jukebox, anywhere really.

Status Unknown swings This Is Dolph Chaney into action with a slow and acoustic fade in. Then we are swiftly introduced to a sense of mystery and inner turmoil that pervades the subject matter of this record. Soul searching often draws a blank here or leads to a dead end, leaving more questions than answers – just like in the real world. In this song the vagaries of life leave the protagonist seems to be alienated by the people he most wants to know, which again reflects harsh reality. Added to that, the music is perfect – in particularly the patient build to a honeyed guitar solo. It’s an early indication that lets you know you’re dealing with someone who will go to great pains to create a gratifying and beautiful musical arrangement, which gives the lyrical stories a firm framework to work on.

A full-on guitar pop/rock monster of a tune I Wanted You follows, it’s catchy as hell and seems to address the sense of release gained by coming out of a toxic/failed relationship. I know the feeling, when I’ve personally tried to carry on regardless of the fact that there is really no hope and the best thing to do is bow out. We go down a few notches on Beat It, I think this one recalls Neil Young a little bit, in Dolph’s voice and the feeling of hard-won authenticity. The very touching tale is given an apt and sensitive treatment. One should also not downplay Nick Bertling’s achievements here – he works as a perfect foil for Dolph all the way through.

Cuddle Party adopts an edgy new wave style, something which suits the song and is very well accomplished. Dolph’s voice is great here and the simple keyboard line fits the tune like a glove. The song itself cannily picks out everyday images that gain importance beyond their worth when one is reflecting back on lost love. There is a true depth to the songwriting on this record, something which is only gained through often bitter experience. Starting with a lovely bit of jangly guitar and rhythm riffing, Now I Am A Man, with “I just had my first prostate exam” among the great lines included, sketches around the necessary adjustments needed to survive over the years with a knowing eye. Then Meaningless opts for a much sparser musical setting, here Dolph dwells on life’s many questions, but not in a lofty or inaccessible way. The spacy feel of the music supplies a meditative background to fit the serious subject and the guitar motors everything along in fine fashion.

There’s a trapped feeling to the words of Pleasant Under Glass, which appears to address another (or possibly the same) unbalanced relationship. But an irrepressible melody offsets the darker lyrical stance, a bouncy pop tune to cherish with some well-judged backing vocals. Strummed acoustic guitar and drones herald Sideless World, a beaut of an atmospheric lament to life’s redemptive qualities (I think?). This may seem like heavy stuff and in truth it is, but Dolph is always careful to undercut the seriousness with humour, like on the lively and infectious My Good Twin, another track that would make an excellent single. This segues into another ebullient rocker in Scales, with smart and memorable lines like “I wish these water wings could help me fly away”, which for me emerged as a particular favourite.

The cool meander of Under The Overpass comes next. Another tune just made to come flowing elegantly out of the radio, Chaney can turn up these kind of gems in a way very few can rival in this day and age. Penultimate track Worship Song then comes out swinging with a pure pop surge, the words dealing with an internal dialogue between Dolph and Jesus, where the former confesses “I’m a dumbass – forgive me”. Finally Graveyard Shift brings things to a downbeat but fitting conclusion, with the dark subject presented in only a few verses. The music has a strange kind of eternal feel, offering some light where in other hands the whole thing could have been too doomy. Anyway, it’s an ending that works the near-impossible trick of being both low-key and epic at the same time.

Looking at the album as a whole, it digs deep into the artist’s psyche over three decades. It doesn’t offer easy answers, but does reveals the joy and knowledge that learning hard lessons can bring. Though situations no doubt changed over the 30 years the songs span, the “big” questions are still there and Dolph is not afraid to meet them head on. Which is very brave really and certainly pays off as it stamps genuineness right through the record. Returning back to the “Greatest Hits” idea, these tunes successfully latched themselves in my subconscious and like the great collection it is, I suspect more plays will yield further delights. This Is Dolph Chaney works both as a concise and neat introduction to his work and as an enigmatic, thoroughly enjoyable album of depth, real emotion and sharp insight. - Louder Than War

"Big Stir: Athanor & Holiday Maxi-Single"

Dolph Chaney’s acoustic guitar-driven “Christmas” looks for light in the shadows of a season that runs the full spectrum of emotions…“the pitter-patter of little defeats”…after repeatedly asking “Can it be Christmas” as scenes of past and present float by, the answer arrives…“Well, it is, said a voice, with nobody attached…” The doubt and disillusionment melt away as the true meaning of the season reveals itself. It’s a beautifully honest and emotional track that takes a non-traditional route to the heart of it all. - Mike DeAngelis, There Once Was A Note

"Dolph Chaney - REBUILDING PERMIT (Big Stir Records)"

In a nutshell, Rebuilding Permit is the sound of pure emotion. The artist Dolph Chaney channels a stark realism directly from his soul and into the senses of those listening. It is not an affair of doom and gloom, instead this work is a celebration of life itself. Like us all, there is a sense that Dolph has gone through some trials in his life, and Rebuilding Permit is metaphorical of the first breath a drowning man breathes as he reaches the surface. The saviour and survival honed across nine tracks, as the rebuilding becomes the re-evaluation and redemption all in one.

With that depth in mind this is the sound of a triumphant troubadour connecting without judgement, a hand reaching out to comfort. Dolph has that rare gift of being able to resonate with those who cannot find the words to explain how they feel. As the first track begins, “It’s Ok” you realize this is the start of the healing process. Though a track which is so upbeat and positive that immediately you become hooked, and that is a good thing. Onward into “If I Write It Down”, the powerful imagery and hopeful messages build passionately. – “If I write it down then I have to feel”
A song which lifts the lid on how and why you should face your fears. It is that word ‘fear’ or rather fearlessness that pulses through Rebuilding Permit like an electrical current.

The songwriting is amazing, crafting words to rock sounds. “The Handling” exudes this, with a meeting of old-school power pop and Steve Miller, it rocks with the best of them. And a whipping solo that cuts through your skin. With flourishes of piano the oddly named “The Biscuit (Who Grabbed My Face)” erupts joyously, as Dolph Chaney injects warmth and sings as if his life depends on it. This theme switches into the nightmarish “Diet Of Worms”. An Americana-grunge feel that is driven by guitar cranks over acoustics with haunting drones erupting throughout.

There is no arguing with his political swipe “The President Of The United States Is The Breitbart Bimbo”. A protest anthemic statement fuelled by attacking guitar riffs that comes out of nowhere but fits in nicely with its surroundings. This menace is pulled back with the soul rendering “Broken”. An acoustic track that moves from minimalistic to emotion stirring as the instruments merge to the feelings. Then into a standout track, “A Good Road Is Hard To Find”. A slice of brilliance based on the hardest struggles reap the greatest rewards. It moves with emotion and an acoustic guitar pattern that lodges into your brain.

The closing “(Who Am I) To Ask You To Dance?”, brings this journey to an end. A melodic piece of self belief, that ends as beautiful as it starts. Ultimately pain should not create such beauty, or so you would think. The thing is though, this is not a paint-by-numbers affair, it is not a pretentious second hand view. It is real life, and Dolph Chaney is a real person, but he is gifted and his talent shines.

1.It’s OK
2.If I Write It Down
3.The Handling
4.The Biscuit (Who Grabbed My Face)
5.Diet Of Worms
6.The President Of The United States Is The Breitbart Bimbo
8.A Good Road Is Hard To Find
9.(Who Am I) To Ask You To Dance? - Kevin Burke, THE BIG TAKEOVER

"Big Stir Singles: The Fourth Wave CD"

"Dolph Chaney (It’s OK, I Am The B Side): “It’s OK” is a ballad with a psychedelic freak-out midsection…“If you see me walking down the street, tell me it’s OK…” It’s brilliantly arranged, as the psychedelia persists through the second half of the song. “I Am The B Side” is a fun take on the concept of the B Side being unceremoniously assigned a minor and/or forgotten role…just like some people. Wonderful use of a metaphor as something more universal. “I’m the B Side of your favorite single…you never listen to me…”" - Mike DeAngelis, THERE ONCE WAS A NOTE

"Big Stir Singles - The Fourth Wave (Big Stir Records)"

"This is essential for a number of reasons-firstly, the twenty-five tracks are an eclectic mix which I’ll get to shortly. Secondly $5 from every compact disc and download purchase goes to the Ed Asner Family Center who work tirelessly providing help to children, adults and families struggling with issues around mental health and cognitive disability. Thirdly, it is a display of kindness in an industry which at times seems devoid of any compassion towards artists or society in general. This is remarkable, well worth checking out, and one of those rare occasions when everyone benefits.

Now, for the music, this is not a stocking filler, this is simply all killer. Personally it is like a memorable dive into some of my favourite power-pop tracks of the last few months.  There is plenty of experimentation on offer with the eighties-styled Dolph Chaney who crowns passionately in front of a wall of melody.

Variety, Prowess and pleasure equates to a compact disc wedged in a car stereo for the coming months. My hope is that albums such as these are sent out to up-and-coming garage bands as a guide on how to execute power-pop-rock perfectly. Big Stir Records: The Fourth Wave is the gift which will keep giving (joy) long after the season of goodwill ends." - Kevin Burke, The Big Takeover

"New Bird Rise review"

"Dolph Chaney, singer/songwriter, sashays thru pleasant acoustic-guitar (and sometimes a hint of synth) accompanied soft pop tones, poetical excursions supported by subtle supple melodies. Intriguing. Bittersweet romance, lost love, and more expressed elegantly in capable verse: "I held your present in the past, and I would like to take it back. I know, before this line is cast, your baited breath is what I lack" (from "Out of the Picture"); "I throw a rock at your head, but I miss you" (from "Miss You"); "And your smile in the fog just fades in a half-decade's serenades, like the moment I lost sight of you through the windshield" (from "New Years"); and "Lie to me, and let me lie with you. I'm tired of the truth; I just want you" (from "Let Me Lie")." - Riff Gibson, Raging Smolder Music Review

"New Bird Rise review"

"Chaney's very amusing bio and a 1988 endorsement by Eugene Chadbourne as proof that "musical insanity is alive and well" led me to expect something rather more wacky than New Bird actually is. In fact, with the exception of "Ocean," a brief and peculiar ode to a brand of saltwater nasal spray, Chaney comes off as a tender, compassionate, erudite songsmith, with a wry sense of humor that deflates any encroaching sappiness. Affairs of the heart are a primary concern, but the spirit gets its due in several songs that exult Chaney's faith and love of God with uncommon subtlety. By emphasizing his personal relationship with the Almighty and eschewing proselytizing, he's a more successful missionary than more overtly "Christian" artists I've encountered." - Jim Santo, Demo Universe


ALBUMS (* = available on Apple Music, Spotify, and other major services)


* LOUDNESS 2 11 - 2012
* VOLUME ONE - 1999
HEADBONKER (live) - 1999
* NEW BIRD RISE - 1998
RIPPLES - 1993



Big Stir recording artist Dolph Chaney is entering 2023 putting the finishing touches on a new album (following up 2021's indie-radio hit THIS IS DOLPH CHANEY) and booking shows backed by his Chicagoland beat combo The Phins.  Since his teen years in the late '80s, Dolph has consistently delivered a unique mix of power-pop whimsy & folkie earnestness, with big, warm, sweet, funny and poignant pop songs -- ingeniously written, exuberantly performed.  Catch Dolph Chaney & The Phins at IPO Chicago 2023 in April (Montrose Saloon) and at discerning live-music purveyors throughout the year!

THIS IS was acclaimed as a babysue Top Pick, joined by raves in The Big Takeover and Louder Than War.  On the Chicago airwaves, the album hit the weekly top 10 at CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM and also enjoyed consistent airplay on WNUR-FM and WLUW-FM.  Standout single "My Good Twin" earned a Song Of The Year honor from Pop-A-Looza and received multiple spins on SIRIUS XM ch 21, Little Steven's Underground Garage.  Dolph was named the 2020 Artist Of The Year by respected Internet station Woody Radio. 

Recommended if you like: Matthew Sweet, Bob Mould, Neil Finn, Harry Nilsson, and yourself.


From the desk of Big Stir Records:

Chicagoland's DOLPH CHANEY made unprecedented new friends and fans with his first Big Stir Records release REBUILDING PERMIT in 2020. It was a genuine breakthrough album, winning a wide global audience and many honors, culminating in his coronation as WOODY RADIO's Artist Of The Year. But the singer-guitarist has been writing and recording for decades, dating back to his teens in the late ‘80s. Throughout that career, Dolph worked in isolation with lo-fi gear and playing every instrument, aiming to capture his songs quickly and intuitively, then move to the next. It's an approach that reached its peak in terms of both artistry and audience reach on REBUILDING PERMIT, an album that changed everything for Chaney... and just happened to materialize in April of last year, when the nascent COVID-19 pandemic changed everything for everyone. 

It came as no surprise to those who have known him as long as we have that Dolph proved to be that rare artist suited to thrive and grow in adversity. As that singular moment of cultural uncertainty began to mutate into one sociopolitical nightmare after another, Chaney too evolved, and his response was nothing short of inspirational. With his album earning admirers, airplay, and strong reviews worldwide, the artist took an invitation from online radio station Woody Radio to perform regular live webcasts and ran with it. The shows brought Dolph more than just new listeners and a much-needed opportunity to interact. “I had the chance to push myself, to try things with my guitar and voice I hadn’t thought I could pull off,” he says. “I was blessed to have all of that keeping me engaged and sharp at such a bewildering time.” 

The impetus to keep the shows fresh saw Chaney delving into his own deep back catalog as he caught the ears of other leading lights on the global pop rock scene. Enter NICK BERTLING, also a veteran of homemade music-making, celebrated for his creative work as bertling noise laboratories and helming much-loved records from Gretchen's Wheel among others. Dolph reached out to simply to express admiration for Nick's work on the just-released Futureman Records XTC tribute. By July 4, after trading tracks, shared admiration and feedback, Nick proposed working together. Things moved quickly, and THIS IS DOLPH CHANEY is the dazzling and thoroughly engrossing result: equal parts deeply considered craft and inspired immediacy. It's at once a career summation, an introduction, and a sonic leap forward that's sure to win our man even more fans and followers.

Band Members