Dynah are another band from Austin, Texas. And
like What Made Milwaukee Famous,
they sound nothing like the garage rock which I mentally associate
with that region. But that is not a bad thing.
But before I talk about their music, let me have a brief, geeky digression
about their album, 0100010001011001010011100100000101001000.
It gets the dubious distinction of being the longest album title
we've reviewed at Evil Sponge by a band that's not from Canada,
and will henceforth be referred to as "the album." Still, being
a computer geek, I really want to know what the reference stands
for. It has one too many octets to be an IP address, and one
too few to be a MAC address. Either way, you have to suspect
that the binary code means something to the band, especially
when you begin to consider their music.
The album begins with Sick Inside, which is vaguely
reminiscent of Chicago band Midstates.
From the first, Dynah's most distinctive characteristic is singer
Rion Basyus's voice, which is quite melodic but has a slightly
geeky edge to it. From there, the band moves on to Ones and
Zeroes. This one has a bassline straight out of the 80s
and vocal line that recalls Stop Whispering from Radiohead.
More importantly, the melody is driven by that bassline while
the guitar acts in a more rhythmic capacity.
The third song, Misfit seems a bit more peppier and
punkier with a Wire/Gang
of Four influence. Listening to this one, I understand why people
compare them to The Cure; however I'd personally compare it
to Power, Corruption, and Lies-era New Order.
Still, it's a nice, icy tune, although the vocals are way too
up front. Personally, I want to hear more bass and guitars and
less vocals, which is perhaps my main complaint about the first
three songs on this album.
But, then there's A.M., the slower, semi-acoustic ballad
which just doesn't work for me all. Nevertheless, it has some
nice space-y effect going on in the background to liven up the
acoustic format. Dynah regain their balance with Cracked
Bones. This song contrasts a higher electric guitar line
with some deliberate acoustic strumming. Over it all, Basyus
sings slowly and deliberately as bassist Phil Brasenell holds
the melody yet again. However, at the 3 minute mark, the band
kicks it in with a soaring guitar part that mimics that newly
soaring backing vocal line, which is itself broken by an unexpected
bridge/last verse. With all of its musical contradictions, Cracked
Bones is a highlight of the album.
The next song, Philosophy and A Kiss continues in the same vein as the earlier songs. There are soaring vocals with backing guitar arpeggios. And again, everything seems to click a bit more when the whole band kicks in. In particular, I really like the mix on the ostensible chorus as the vocals get caught behind a newly present keyboard. In fact, throughout the song, the vocals seem lower than in the earlier material, which works well.
Plastiscene begins with a deliberate drumbeat reminiscent
of Portastatic's In the Manner of Anne Frank, but without
the distinctive bassline. However, with the combination of dominating
keyboards and a catchy melody, this one sounds like something
off The Cost
of Living by Sharks and Minnows. More importantly,
with the keyboard to act as a contrast, Basyus's vocals feel
more natural than on some of the previous material.
Photograph ostensibly ends the album. With a rich cacophony of sounds
and that newly found, more level mix, it sounds really nice,
despite the deliberate break in Basyus's voice during the verse
structure. I assume that since he does it every time it's deliberate.
Although it feels a little affected to me, it's more or less
hidden by a layer of distortion over it. But just when you think
it's all over, there's one more song. The untitled track nine
is an almost 6 minute song that harkens back to that cold Chicago
sound I mentioned previously. It's vocal layers on top of layers
of guitars effects. And it's a really nice ending to the album.
Despite all of the reference points listed above, the album
has a unity in sound that makes it easy to listen to. However,
this same coherence also occasionally works against the listener,
as it's a bit hard to separate out what works for Dynah as opposed
to what doesn't. Nevertheless, for a young band, 0100010001011001010011100100000101001000
is a solid offering that I suspect would appeal to people who
like a variety of post-punk styles.