Dot Dash – Winter Garden Light (album) (The Beautiful Music)
‘Winter Garden Light’ is the second album from Washington, D.C. quartet Dot Dash who feature ex-members of Julie Ocean, The Saturday People, Youth Brigade, and Modest Proposal; drummer Danny Ingram even spent time in the mighty Swervedriver.
When you think of music from Washington, D.C. chances are you think of the early 80’s hardcore movement: Dischord Records and acts such as Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Teen Idles. However on the 10 songs that make up ‘Winter Garden Light’, Dot Dash showcase a brand of power-pop ala Teenage Fanclub, early Ash, with hints of The Lemonheads. True to the markings of power-pop, ‘Winter Garden Light’ is a guitar driven album made up of trademark 70’s influenced melodies, vocal harmonies, jangly guitar riffs locked down by a tight rhythm section, and all round good vibes.
“Faraway” gets the ball rolling and sets the template for the record with its up-tempo and upbeat poppiness reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub. Right from the get-go you may get the feeling that you’ve been transported back to 1994 and Ash has just released ‘Trailer’. Even the production has a very 90’s feel to it with guitars high up in the mix and tightly compressed drumming. There’s a definite 90’s punk edge to their sound especially in the bass playing and drumming style. In fact, the bass playing and drumming are both highlights of the album overall.
“Countdown” follows and is the longest song on the record, clocking in at 4:38. A more melodic and instantly accessible number “Countdown” oozes with melody and sounds very much like early Ash.
Both “Writing On The Wall” and “Live To Tell” have strong vocal hooks with the latter being particularly poppy and nostalgic while “Two Octobers” is edgier and less about the vocal hooks and more about the melodic guitar work and its interesting arrangement.
“The Past Is Another Country” immediately recalls The Jam and at only 1:37 in duration, it doesn’t mess about it finding a way to nestle its way into your memory.
‘Winter Garden Light’ is competent record with enough creativity in the arrangements to make for an interesting listen however by the end the impression is that it’s somehow missing that “wow” factor, be it a “hit” or a truly irresistible melody that takes the record to the next level. However, there is much promise demonstrated on ‘Winter Garden Light’ and you have to love the fact that while power-pop isn’t exactly “fashionable” right now Dot Dash have achieved exactly what they set out to do, making melodic-guitar driven album that draws upon the template of power-pop but with a slightly grittier, punk edge.
Listen to the track “Writing On The Wall” below:
Update 22 October, 2010: Dot Dash have just released the video for the single “The Past In Another Country”, which you can watch below: