19 March 2008

Band of the Week: The Dodos

Band: The Dodos
From: San Francisco, CA
Sound: Percussion spliced from thunder and rattlesnakes synced with gritty but nimble acoustic guitar and desperate, soaring vocals
Similar Artists: Animal Collective, Elliot Smith, Caribou, Islands, Magnetic Fields
Listen Now: "Fools"

See how tricky we can be? In our intro to last week's BoW we tipped our hand with this week's pick by mentioning the Dodos as a similar artist. Sometimes reading EF can be like watching an episode of Lost; lots to unpack here.

Okay actually, it's just a coincidence. But after seeing them live last week and spending a few stir-crazy days - this week's question: is it possible to go stir-crazy while moving? - wearing out both their debut album Beware of the Maniacs and new record Visiter (out yesterday on French Kiss Records) the timing was perfect.

The Dodos are a San-Francisco based collaboration between Meric Long (guitar, vocals) and Logan Kroeber (percussion). Individually, they bring masterful levels of technical proficiency to the music, Long effortlessly unspooling intricately fluid finger-picked acoustic guitar lines and Kroeber - a former metal drummer - approximating the shifting dynamics of a thunderstorm with each rim shot and tribal floor drum run. And yet, it's when these elements come together in service of the larger song that interesting things start happening.

Such as? Well, there's just something about these songs that elevate the listener far away from the here and now, producing an intangible momentum that feels as though the floor, walls, and ceilings have all suddenly given way to a different time and place.

Daytrotter's Sean Moeller talked about this sensation in an excellent piece he wrote about the band last August....Using the go-to "dodos = extinction" angle that journalists have seemed to latch onto when talking about the band, he asserted:

The extinction that gets you thinking when listening to anything that Long and Kroeber have had a hand in is more of a temporary removal from recognition and existence that’s replete with an overabundance of all of the little things that are sensory and blinding. The amount of gravity that Long can stitch into his folk-ish songs is spellbinding and the living proof that the massive undertaking can be accomplished with just two men and their simple, un-juiced up instruments should be enough to start question what you know about anything. The extinction that Long and Kroeber bring to mind is scary in its simplicity, the whisking away from all surroundings if the whisking was actually done at lightning speed and unannounced.

From our experience, this is a very useful trait to seek out in the music you choose to listen to when driving through several days of torrential downpours. As I mentioned before, we've had a lot of time to digest both Dodos albums; they've essentially been THE soundtrack to the last 48 hours of driving. Driving through Missouri in driving rain. Listening. Driving through Illinois in driving rain. Still listening. Driving through Indiana in driving rain. Still. Driving through Ohio...you get the idea, yes?

Somehow, Meric and Kroeber's unadorned arrangements and wonderfully quotidian lyrics and subject matter (see "Horny Hippies" from Beware of the Maniacs: "Well I take a look outside and see the pretty girls walk by, but I can't make myself say hi because I'm scared.") helped transcend everything unadorned and quotidian surrounding us. Don't worry, I still don't understand how this happened either.

Or, to try and illustrate this another way, early on during Day 2 of Dodos Downpour Driving Matt suddenly blurted out that he wanted to create the music video for the Angels of Light-esque "Joe's Waltz" (from Visiter). The concept he set forth before our very (rain-soaked) eyes saw Long and Kroeber performing the song in a small congregation at the edge of town in Marfa, TX (for some reason he's been harboring an alarming obsession with Marfa lately). The entire congregation is locked inside with them and all the windows and doors have been crudely boarded up to keep out a tribe of blood-thirsty vampires that have descended upon the town. Long's heartfelt and plaintive cry "you neeeed help!" over and over again during the latter half of the song is therefore addressed to the hysterical congregation and....he never finished the video treatment so I'm not sure how it all ends. Point is, the Dodos' music succeeded in transporting us so that this:

Yesterday's Travels

Essentially became this:

Production Stills from Matt's Dodos Video

Residents of Marfa, TX, be sure to board up your windows soon because the Dodos are coming to town on March 22nd (see all dates below). We're about to get back on the road, any guess as to what we'll be listening to today?


"Fools" (music video directed by Matt Amato, not to be confused with forthcoming vampire featurette by Matt Tyson)

See The Dodos Live:
19 Mar - Fort Worth, TX @ Lola's Fort Worth
20 Mar - Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
22 Mar - Marfa, TX @ Marfa Ballroom
23 Mar - Houston, TX @ The Mink
25 Mar - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
26 Mar - Atlanta, GA @ Lenny's
27 Mar - Asheville, NC @ Harvest Records
28 Mar - Durham, NC @ Bull City Headquarters
29 Mar - Charlottesville, VA @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
30 Mar - Washington, DC @ DC9
31 Mar - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
02 Apr - New Haven, CT @ Cafe 9
03 Apr - Princeton, NJ @ Terrace Club
04 Apr - Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/Les Savy Fav
05 Apr - New Haven, CT @ Cafe 9
05 Apr - Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore - TLA w/Les Savy Fav
06 Apr - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
08 Apr - Montreal, QC @ Le Divan Orange
09 Apr - Toronto, ON @ El Mocambo
10 Apr - Annandale, NY @ Smog Club @ Bard College
11 Apr - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
12 Apr - Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks
15 Apr - Columbus, OH @ Cafe Bourbon Street
16 Apr - Detroit, MI @ Pike Room
17 Apr - Chicago, IL @ The Note
18 Apr - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
18 Apr - Chicago, IL @ Shoreland Ballroom
19 Apr - Bloomington, IN @ Culture Shock
20 Apr - Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
21 Apr - Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
27 Apr - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall w/Les Savy Fav
14 May - San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
28 June - Calgary, AB @ Sled Island Festival
02 July - Boise, ID @ Downtown Boise

Visit The Dodos on MySpace
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
Hey Hey My My
Amy LaVere
Beach House
Computer Perfection
Goes Cube
Magic Arm
Drink Up Buttercup
The Big Sleep

See the entire list of bands featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week HERE.


nards said...

Nice post. Been listening visiter a fair bit myself and looking forward to seeing them live.

Drive safely guys

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