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MP3 of the Day #805: Dot Dash

 
By on Tuesday, 7th January 2014 at 10:00 am
 

Washington, DC’s own Dot Dash – who I caught supporting the Drums in April 2012, then Ash in November 2012 – released their third album ‘Half-Remembered Dream’ last autumn. As a special New Year’s treat, they’re giving away a track, ‘Shopworn Excuse’, from their latest album. With feel good guitars feeling ’90s and wistful vocals reminiscent of the ’60s, you can’t go wrong. Listen to and grab it for your very own below.

 

Live Review: Ash with Reputante and Dot Dash at DC9, Washington DC – 15th November 2012

 
By on Monday, 19th November 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

As I was telling the man himself, Tim Wheeler of Ash, after their show at Washington’s DC9 on Thursday night, I had been waiting what felt like an eternity to see the Northern Irish band gig for some time. So had many Washingtonians; it had been 7 long years since the trio graced our city, and this time around in 2012, they had chosen to play in really small venues, so when word got out they were playing the 200-capacity club, we pounced on tickets. Even now, a couple days after, it feels incredibly surreal that I has been stood just feet away from a band I had only heard either in recordings of ‘Life on Mars’ being played on 6music or when Wheeler guested many times on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable. (Note to the BBC and Lammo: Tim Wheeler says I should be on Roundtable pronto. Please, sort that out 🙂

But let’s start this gig review first with the openers. The first was Reputante, whose description on DC9’s Web site read like this: “Reputante is a recording collaboration between James Levy and Tim Wheeler of Ash, and a band with James Levy, Jimmy Giannopoulis, Emiliano Ortiz and Raviv Ullman. Jon Wiley and Pete Moses also participate.” This led me to believe that Tim Wheeler actually played in the band, so I arrived early, thinking he would be onstage for their set. Mmm, no.

Levy, the frontman, was quite taciturn and never said where they were from. (Their Facebook says Brooklyn. I guess this is how he knows Wheeler, who lives in the Lower East Side.) He had this odd stance while he was singing, like he was trying to perform a lunge; I described it to Cheryl as a half Guy Garvey (no rocking). Further, when Levy sang, his slow, dirge-like intonations reminded me of Ian Curtis. This band is more fun when they’re upbeat, even if Levy’s voice still has an edge of sadness. Another thing that irked me about this band was that all their songs were so short and seemed to end just as they’d gotten started; they’d play a grand chord and then…nothing. The song would stop.

Weird, abrupt endings of songs was not a problem for the next band. I was really looking forward to hearing locals Dot Dash again, after seeing them open for the Drums at a sold out Black Cat in April. They didn’t disappoint, striking a nice balance between the shoegaze of Evan Dando’s Lemonheads and the Stone Roses. Perhaps it was because the acoustics were better this night at DC9 than at the Black Cat, but this time I could fully appreciate how great the guitars and drums went together on Dot Dash’s songs. Just watching Bill Crandall rip it on guitar made my head spin. So few bands these days are truly musically talented and write great songs. Check out the video for ‘The Past is Another Country’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWPuwqwDZvs[/youtube]

Having reviewed both of Ash’s Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the ‘A-Z’ single series in 2010, I was more excited than should be allowed for the band’s long-awaited return to the Nation’s Capital. Maybe it is because I have never experienced them live and have only listened to their songs either through headphones o n my mp3 player or on the computer via the BBC iPlayer or Spotify, I really wasn’t expecting how loud the gig was. (I should have probably put on the highest filter on my earplugs before the gig started. Whoops.) Or maybe it was because I was standing right in front of Tim Wheeler, so close that he could see the bandage on my face I was complaining about on Twitter hours before that after the gig, he said he recognised me and asked how my nose was? Whatever the reason, their sound was huge and overwhelming. In a good way.

They had dubbed it their 20th Anniversary Tour, so as should be expected from any greatest hits anything, the massive hits from yesteryear were trotted outand played loudly and with so much passion for an ever appreciative Washington audience. Lammo must like ‘Girl from Mars’ because it comes up quite often in his playlists, but I really wasn’t prepared for the live version. The band barely had a segue from ‘A-Z’ single ‘Arcadia’ right into it; watch both below. The funny moment of the night belonged to drummer Rick McMurray, who complained that he needed to resituate his private parts (you had to be there to fully appreciate the jokes but you can get some of the humour before they play ‘Arcadia’).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4_9555wyOY[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q39vPAksWz4[/youtube]

Instead of going offstage only to return for an encore, Ash did away with this, by launching directly from ‘Return of White Rabbit’ (completely with absolutely manic bass lines delivered by Mark Hamilton, who wins the gold medal for the night for the most wild guitar playing poses) straight into ‘Joy Kicks Darkness’, both from the ‘A-Z’ collection. Truth be told, I was kind of bummed they didn’t play ‘Space Shot’ (my favourite of all the A-Z singles) or ‘True Love 1980’, but no worries, guys. They can play those when they return to DC – something that Tim Wheeler himself promised now that he and Mark live in New York City. Result!

After the cut: Ash’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Ash with Reputante and Dot Dash at DC9, Washington DC – 15th November 2012

 

Live Review: The Drums with Dot Dash and Part Time at Black Cat, Washington DC – 21st April 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 25th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

(Editor’s note: lighting was horrible for most of the night, so apologies on the quality of the photos on here.)

I have wistful memories of the first time I saw the Drums. It was 2 years ago at the 9:30 Club, co-headlining with then flavour of the month band Surfer Blood. Before that, I did a very candid interview with Jonny Pierce and then drummer Connor Hanwick at a Caribbean café across the way. It’s with much disgust that I report to you that the airy, tropical-themed café has now been replaced with a sports bar with dodgy, blacked out windows. Also, the Drums have undergone another line-up change: Hanwick has been replaced and live, the band sports not just one but two guitarists, leaving Jacob Graham free to fiddle with a wide selection of synthesisers, running from the more modern and traditional-looking to an impressive wall of holes reminding me of this photo on Delphic’s MySpace. And you thought the Drums were just a ‘simple’ surf pop band? Oh, how wrong you are… Washington was loud and proud Saturday night as we played host to the Drums’ first date on their current North American tour.

First opening band Dot Dash were a pleasant surprise. They never told us where they were from, so I had to find out from their Facebook that they’re actually a local band who was very thankful to the Drums’ manager for having them on the bill. Generally speaking, bands we go to see don’t wear wedding rings. They’re just not old enough. So it was surprising to see opening for the Drums was this band that made me think of an American Stone Roses, even comparable to age with Ian Brown and co. Their band name belies the complexity of their music. I loved the way the guitars and drums melded effortlessly; the bass player wins extra points with his sunglasses that made him look like a mod. I wasn’t, however, in love with the lyrics: how does “I don’t know why” repeated many, many times as a chorus strike you? Still, if you can’t have the Stone Roses, it’s pretty nice to know you’ve got a local backup.

Note to bands: if you want us to photograph you, then for heaven’s sakes, make sure you turn on the light. We don’t need blinding lights, but I knew as soon as the Part Time lead singer said, “turn down the lights” because he felt self-conscious, none of us would have a prayer in photographing them with any justice. So I’ll just have to describe them to you in words. Singer – long unkempt hair, leather jacket, animal print shirt and torn jeans. Guitarist with synthesiser – looked like he just stepped off the set of Miami Vice with t-shirt and white suit jacket. Bass player – straight from Bay City Rollers, including plaid shirt and hat. Other synthesiser player – guy next door (and I couldn’t really see well that far on the other side of the stage, sorry). Drummer – playing his heart out but with a very limited drum kit augmented by a fancy pants electronic drum pad. Part Time’s style is wonky new wave; they’re signed to Mexican Summer, who have also signed Best Coast, if that helps any.

When the Drums first appeared on the blogosphere with ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, some pundits were comparing them to the Smiths. I couldn’t see that at all; except for Morrissey and Jonny Pierce’s mutual love of films, there seemed to be nothing else in common between the two bands. Then it all became clear at this Black Cat show. We’ll never know – or at least not know for a long time, I think –but I get the vibe that Pierce and Graham’s friendship is as strong as Morrissey and Marr’s was back in the day. Creative differences have caused flight from this band twice already, yet Pierce and Graham remain intact and feel like the bedrock of the Drums. Further, if you examine the lyrics, they’re pretty dark. ‘I Need a Doctor’ was explained by Pierce as “this is a song about being mentally ill”. Not what you’d associate with sunny, poppy melodies. And just who was singing gaily about ‘Cemetry Gates’?

The Cat has a much smaller stage than the 9:30, yet despite the intimacy, the energy was a lot higher for this gig. This gig was also sold out, but I definitely did not expect the moshers, who several times threw me and my middle right into the hard metallic edge of the stage (ouch). There were so many great moments to the Drums’ set that I would have gladly suffered similar ‘inconveniences’ to see them again. Case in point: Chairlift had a sold out set of their own, down the street at U Street Music Hall, and came over as the Drums’ guests after they were done playing their show. Pierce was beside himself, saying it was such a happy occasion having friends in the audience. Caroline Polachek even bounded on the stage with a huge grin on her face to help Pierce sing out the end of ‘Forever and Ever Amen’, after which Pierce commented, smiling broadly, “this is just a lovely, lovely night”. (I know the photo is blurry, I had no advance warning she’d jump onstage!)

The new line-up sounds very tight, showing mastery with upbeat numbers (‘Best Friends’, ‘Me and the Moon’, ‘Book of Stories’) and slower ones that I’m guessing the iPod generation make out to (‘Days’, ‘Down with the Water’). They left us with ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, the hit they left out at the 9:30 but rewarded the crowd with the ultimate summer song – in the middle of April – to close out the night.

After the cut: the Drums’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Drums with Dot Dash and Part Time at Black Cat, Washington DC – 21st April 2012

 
 
 

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We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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