Mojo (Publisher) (p.94) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A]ny fear that 'Deaner' may have matured during his absence are summarily nipped in the bud by the most puerile collection of ditties since, well, Ween."
Far from running away from the persona of Dean Ween -- the stage name adopted when he was a teenager -- guitarist/singer Mickey Melchiondo runs straight into it, christening his first-post Ween project the Dean Ween Group and naming their debut record The Deaner Album. Like Freeman, the 2014 debut album by his partner Aaron Freeman -- the duo were separated when Melchiondo wrote and recorded the material for this 2016 album but reunited by the time it was released -- The Deaner Album illustrates precisely what Melchiondo brought to Ween...namely, much of the band's brown sound. Designed as a showcase for Melchiondo's guitar playing -- there are three instrumentals scattered throughout the album, two named explicitly after idols Dickey Betts (the Allman Brothers Band) and Garry Shider (Parliament-Funkadelic) -- The Deaner Album does provide plenty of examples of his six-string prowess, including the clean, lively picking of "Shwartze Pete." The title of that song also suggests how often The Deaner Album trades in cheerful vulgarity, a practice that can't help but recall classic Ween. Often, the album takes detours into madness: the hyperkinetic novelty "Exercise Man" sets the album off to a frenzied start, while "Gum," a de facto sequel to "Candy," provides a garish counterpoint to the heavy rock that surrounds it. None of these thick rockers sound alike: "Charlie Brown" is a swirling circle of doom, "I'll Take It and Break It" punishes with its stomping riff, "Bums" races along, while "Nightcrawler" revels in its menacing depravity. All this makes The Deaner Album sound a little excessive but there are also moments of madcap pop ("Bundle of Joy," "You Were There"), twisted country ("Tammy"), and funk ("Mercedes Benz"), all parceled out with expert pacing, so the album plays like a drunken, giddy party. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine