Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dot Dash - Washington D.C. Post-Punk featuring ex-Swervedriver drummer

Dot Dash is a post-punk-pop band from Washington D.C.They cite their influences as The Jam, Joy Division or The Byrds…or perhaps appreciation for the ancient sounds of the Postcard, Whaam and early Creation labels…

Guitarist/singer Terry Banks and bassist Hunter Bennett were in punky power poppers Julie Ocean. Before that, Terry was in a bunch of jangly guitar bands, including The Saturday People, Tree Fort Angst, Glo-Worm and St. Christopher.

Guitarist Bill Crandall was in the mod/pop band Modest Proposal. Drummer Danny Ingram began musical life in Dischord-label punks Youth Brigade before moving on to Strange Boutique and later, U.K. guitar-wranglers Swervedriver.

Dot Dash plays shows, mostly around D.C. In the recent past they’ve opened for Urge Overkill, The Godfathers, The Trash Can Sinatras, The Chameleons and Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers.

"spark>flame>ember>ash" is released by Canadian indie label The Beautiful Music.

There is something lurking underneath the songs on this album, something you feel is ready to burst out and go wild. Yet at the moment the tracks are all very taut and controlled, there's a minimalist almost oppressive feel to them. This works extremely well on some numbers but over 14 tracks it just feels that the lack of variety doesn't quite translate to an album's worth of material. If I'd heard this as a 4 track E.P. or say, 6 track Mini-album, I might have been blown away.

Dot Dash - Photo by Peter Muise
Singer Terry Banks has a voice that reminds me sometimes of Robert Smith and yet on "There And Back Again Lane" it's Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs but hang on, now it's Robert Forster with "That Was Now This Is Then", a track which could be from The Go-Betweens "Friends of Rachel Worth" album. Maybe it's this lack of a distinct character that doesn't quite lift the weaker material such as "No Reverie" and "A Straight Line", maybe it just needs some stronger backing vocals and harmonies, I'm not sure. 

Having said that, I'm featuring Dot Dash because there are some great moments that show the band are capable of writing some really memorable tunes particularly on "Learn How To Fly", which has a chorus that comes close to their 'band-name-influence' Wire's "Map Ref 41N 93W" or "Outdoor Miner". More songwriting of this quality could certainly elevate the band to another level. Then there's the rumbling bassline and discordant guitar lines of "Dissolve" which reflect a paranoid Pixies-like little gem.

"Tragedy/Destiny" and "I'm Going Home" have a warmer more melodic feel and have huge potential, but are both crying out for more prominent backing vocals to lift them to immediate, catchy hits.

Certainly a band I will be keeping an eye-out for though and I'd love to get the opportunity to see them live, to see how well those hidden little gems burst out!

For more information on Dot Dash please check out the band's Facebook page. The album can be bought directly from The Beautiful Music, Amazon or iTunes.

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