Release Date: Mar 18, 2008
Record label: Frenchkiss
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Folk
Lots of late-2000s indie bands boast archaic and/or exotic influences, but few use them with the energy and creativity that the Dodos do on Visiter, their first officially released album. Country-blues fingerpicking meets West African Ewe drumming meets metal meets indie pop sounds like an all-too-wacky description on a band's MySpace page, but the Dodos turn these far-flung elements into delightfully natural-sounding music. What holds it all together is Meric Long and Logan Kroeber's strong pop sensibilities -- that's "pop" in the sense of memorable melodies and ear-catching hooks, because the Dodos' songs are too full of ideas to stick to a verse-chorus-verse format for very long.
Like their large, flightless namesake, San Francisco's Dodos are throwbacks to an earlier age. They eschew bass, cymbals, electricity, and Dave Sitek production, opting instead for acoustic guitars and lo-fi folk. But although most folkies might use this setup to create roots-folk, the two-person Dodos go the other direction, harnessing their technology deficiencies to create primal music that shares more in common with like-minded peers Yeasayer, Animal Collective and High Places.
Like the White Stripes, the Dodos wring a big sound out of only two band members. The Dodos have a vastly different approach though; one more akin to Animal Collective and its psychedelic bonfire sound. The tunes have a singalong quality and the drumming avoids the 4/4 standard for more exotic time signatures and syncopation while keeping the beats insistent.
"Psych-folk-pop" has been coined by American critics to describe San Francisco's Dodos, a percussion-heavy, acoustically-inclined duo. Their second album does contain psychedelic, folk and pop elements, but that doesn't convey the half of it. The beat, supplied by the incredibly dextrous Logan Kroeber, is the thing here; influenced by African and heavy rock drummers, he's a formidable presence.
There is something tragically romantic about a bird that can’t fly, but the metaphor of useless wings doesn’t apply to the Dodos, who use their limbs with musical expertise on this sophomore disc. Their distinctly humble sound has multiple rhythmic influences, including the spontaneity of African drumming, the deliberation of indie rock and a hillbilly shuffle. The first song, Walking, is a casual banjo-backed saunter into the sudden scattering of 16th notes on Red And Purple.