Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Dot Dash - Winter Garden Light

Album review by KevW

Washington, DC's Dot Dash are all well-versed in indie-rock, with all four serving as members of notable US groups such as Julie Ocean, Modest Proposal, The Saturday People and even British distortion exponents Swervedriver. New album 'Winter Garden Light' is their second, arriving less than a year after their debut, and was recorded in just a few days, although it doesn't show. We're guessing the writing took a little longer, but this still doesn't sound rushed or cobbled together in any way. It could simply be that with experience comes efficiency, that and a knack for knowing what works and what doesn't. If you were to sum up 'Winter Garden Light' in one sentence you would probably say it was a whistle-stop tour of the 1990s US guitar scene.

College-rock sounds feature heavily, but stripped of the stoner aspect they don't get bogged down or veer off track, there's a general powerpop feel to the whole set and even hints of grunge about 'Lateral/Vertical' and and various other bits, albeit a less ferocious version; calling them grunge-lite might sound like a criticism when really it's meant as a compliment. Another string to their bow is a gift for decent harmonies, with several songs being graduates of the Teenage Fanclub school of alt-rock-via-Beach Boys melodic distortion. The wonderful 'Countdown' being a particularly sweet and moreish example, along with 'Faraway' and 'La La-Land'. Simple post-punk and C86 sounds from a few years previous are also explored on 'The Past Is Another Country' and the Jesus & Mary Chain buzz of 'The Devil's Road'.

What really makes 'Winter Garden Light' work is the fact that Dot Dash are wise enough to know that, now more than ever, skip-buttons, iPod shuffles and downloading individual tracks instead of entire albums are all common in the way music is consumed. So to avoid casual fans giving the album a quick spin, picking the couple of songs that stick out most and discarding the rest, they've made a record that doesn't have peaks and troughs, there are no indulgent pieces or space-fillers, and the pace is never really allowed to drop. So while this isn't a record that's likely to win awards, it deserves high praise for being solid, extremely well made and a pleasure to listen to for those of us who like our tunes to come with a little fuzz and heaps of melody.

Dot Dash's website

Stream or buy the album

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