28 May 2015

Dot Dash - Earthquakes & Tidal Waves

When we were contacted by Dot Dash a few weeks ago, it was a strange email to receive amongst the other that we receive.  Normally we do get bands and management asking for their latest album to be reviewed, but we were asked to share one of their songs that they were giving away for free - the song is called "Raincloud" and can be downloaded via this clever link - that sort of stood out for me, there is a lot of bands and artists that have stopped doing that sort of promo work for their audience.  It was an old school attiutude (sort of akin to having tracks on free samplers for labels or the old vinyl and cds in fanzines/magazines, giving away stuff at gigs) that I have not seen in years.  So after sharing the link on our Facebook & Twitter feed, I also decided to have a look at this album as well.  'Earthquakes & Tidal Waves' is the fourth album by the d.c. based band, coming off the Canadian label called the Beautiful Music.  Dot Dash contains ex members of Julie Ocean, Swervedriver, Minor Threat, Youth Brigade and many more.  This album was produced by Mitch Easter, who has previously worked with acts such as Wilco, R.E.M., Dinosaur Jr and other acts.  This is the fourth album they have released and they seem to be on a massive push (all through their own self-promotion I may add) as they have been popping up in a few blogs and press that I pick up myself - kudos on all that work there.  But hard work does not always make a good album sadly, it always comes down to the music at the end of the day; so let us see if the bands efforts are matched by their music.

The opening track is called "The Winter of Discontent" which comes out like a mixture of Big Star and The Replacements; it sounds as if it is from another time and is also timeless as well with a fresh tone to that tried and tested formula.  It is also a short and sharp song as it is over in just over two minutes.  It does not wait for the grass to grow under its feet and has enough time to let a solo fly out in the midst of this heart beating ode to luck and all that comes along with it.  The drum beating intro to "Flowers" is broken with a high bass riff and a low slung guitar sound that is laced with a song about dance moves that have gone.  It is full of energy and once again it is over in the blink of an eye, so far, so fast (oddly enough).  The third song is called "Rainclouds" which slows it down slightly at the point, it is a classic album move - first two songs are slightly faster than the third song, high fidelity 101.  This is the song which the band have been sharing for free on their Bandcamp page, it feels a little cluttered in the chorus sections as if it is going to fall apart at any give moment, but it manages to keep it together until the end.

"Satellite (Far Out)" is a stop/start number at the beginning of the song, it does have that early R.E.M. tone to the music and you can see that these guys are so focused on the music that was around during that late 70's/ early 80's period; it is a number that feels incredibly retro and at the same time as if the band are trying to make the sound their own and not a tribute.  I am not 100% sure about it, but I also do not dislike it; I just have not made up my mind on the track (which is usually a sign that in about two years time I will not want to listen to anything else for a month solid).  "Tatters" on the other hand is a number that instantly connects with the heart and the slow strumming number about the aftermath of a traumatic event.  For me, this song is what a great alternative rock/pop song should be; it does not outstay its welcome and it has that little piece of the heart that makes it universal for all - a beautiful track.  Following on it "Walls Closing In" which sounds has a slightly darker sound for the verses on this number, it comes with a slight grunge feeling being thrown into the mixture and whilst not abandoning the other parts of their arsenal it is also good to see that there is something different going on in the band as well.  It is not all pop sheen and there is darkness in this band, another top track of the album.

The seventh track on this album is called "Transparent Disguise", it follows the blue print of the band perfectly; this band would have been massive in a different era.  It is a well crafted pop rock song that wears its influences on its sleeves, it has a healthy dose of Replacements, Posies and even a bit of Sugar/Husker Du in the mix as well.  The next track is called "Thru The Dark" which slows things down, whilst not actually really changing the pattern of the album.  It is strange but it just sounds like a dream-sequence song, it is a number that is really not going with the fashions of its age and it is great to hear a band sound as if they truly do not give a shit with what is in the charts or on the cover of popular magazines - it is a great number that keeps this album going album.  The penultimate song "Semaphore" starts with some high tempo drumming and that old school guitar tone that has been the pillar of this album, it is another song that sounds really good and you cannot not fault the quality of the song.  Ending the album is "Sleep, Sleep" which for the most part slows things down very nicely, it sounds like it could have been from the 50's with a little rock n roll lullaby heading towards the distance; but towards the end the whole band join in and it sort of takes a bit away from the number which is a shame.

I think overall this album is a good, solid record that has its heart in the right place, the band sound very comfortable with each other and they have produced a good record.  If I had a pick faults, I would have liked a bit more variety on the numbers and sometimes less is more (the beginning of "Sleep, Sleep" for example) - but to be honest this only to play devils advocate.  If you are looking for a honest and good pop rock album, this could be the album for you.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

Top track - Tatters

You can purchase the digital version of the album from Amazon here

You can also purchase the digital version of the album from Bandcamp here (there is a link for the CD copy there as well)

You can follow their activities on Facebook here

You can stream the album from Spotify here

You can stream the album on Deezer here

The album is not on Tidal yet, if this changes then a link will be updated

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