Friday, November 30, 2012


DC has always been one of the most 'Wired" cities on this side of the Atlantic, with many bands covering many early Wire songs. Dot Dash makes it clear where they are coming from with their name which invokes the challenge to be able to bring the spirit and quality of Wire into their music. Tall order, but these four guys are up to it. They play pop music with strong instrumental backing and smooth vocal lines. There is as much Ride present as Wire, along with a host of British American pop/punk influences. It is not the 'grab you by the throat' brand of power pop, but a smart, silky, rocking brand of pop/rock that is immediately enjoyable, but even better after a few more listens. Their live set is always entertaining, and it is no surprise that they capture their sound so well in the studio. This sharp band should be part of every DC rock fan's world.

Available through their label, the beautiful music.

Songs to try out first:

Faraway - The opening cut is often the best place to start as the instrumentation hits with a wallop before ceding some volume to let the vocals in.

Two Octobers - The guitars jangle, the rhythm section creates a murky undulating pace, and the vocal work is mysterious--a fascinating atmosphere here.

Live to Tell - The basic pop hooks are augmented by some spacious guitar work.

This record starts off as if it will take a nice breezy pop-psyche approach with a modern indie vibe. But keep listening as mysterious elements crop up before you know it. You can skip down to the title cut which is as much a statement of lyrical and musical intent as anything. This psychedelic music in the very modern sense. They head it into spacious realms with a wink and a sly grin as they want to enjoy the ride more than find the destination. Musically, this really hits a twisted crossroads of the Gun Club and the Flaming Lips. Anyone with a slightly inventive bone in their body should try this once, and if you are like me, you'll be headed back many times.

You can see them live, opening for Of Montreal at the 9:30 Club on Friday, December 14th.

Songs to try out first:

On Blue Mountain- Spooky organ lingers in the background as a sharp and quirky pop song emerges until it morphs into a weird Jeffrey Lee Pierce vocal battle with a youth choir?!

Bowling Trophies - If anything can be called industrial pop, it may be this little dittie.

Shuggie - By the time of the Bop-bop-bah-dee-dah-dah fadeout, I was swaying along, completely hooked.

This area band has a big, big sound. They have already played some big stages (with no less than Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult) along with some of the smaller area clubs and they manage to fit snugly into venues of any size just fine. That is in part due to a classic bar-room band blues rock that has strong Americana roots at the heart along with arena sized rock blasts from the guitar and rhythm section. The vocals manage to stay clean and strong on top of it all and there are some keyboards lending to the overall atmosphere. The songwriting shows some thoughtfulness with regard to form, as they occasionally succeed in elevating a fun bluesy rocker into something more memorable. It is evident that the songwriting is sharper on this sophomore album. And at the end of the day, end of the set, or end of this album, be assured that Midnight Hike rocks hard and pure.

Check them out live at the Album Release show at the State Theatre, Friday December 14th.

Songs to try out first:

Pilot- From the near-Mark Arm styled vocals to the harmonies and mid-tempo rock anthem pace,

Masters of the Sky - Has that early 70s sort of heavy rock with enough legit soul to get the groove on.

Shoot the Moon - As is often the case, the title track features a wide variety of explorations into their many musical skills and forms.


And if this is not enough, Issue Number 49 of Folkworld Magazine is out now with hundreds of my reviews and others by many fine writers from all over Europe.

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