ALBUM REVIEW: "Proto Retro" - Dot Dash
Whether it's warm sentimentality, snarky commentary or emotional release, Dot Dash knows how to rock it out.
GENRE: JANGLE PUNK / GARAGE ROCK / POWER POP / INDIE ROCK / ALTERNATIVE ROCK RELEASE DATE: 27 JULY 2018
In the midst of all the reverb jangles that are making the rounds in indie music around the world - through algorithms, music magazines and playlists - there’s something very warm and comforting about going back to its college rock roots. Bands like early R.E.M have their mark in Dot Dash, not to mention the working class disillusionment coming from groups like The Replacements or The Jam. Proto Retro especially feels like a huge love letter to that era that started it all. There are also very clear punk influences in songs like TV/Radio, where lines like “to the man in a wig talking about China” is delivered in the same snide drawl as bands liike The Clash or a poppier Dead Kennedy’s, all while mocking Donald Trump’s inflection. As Dot Dash’s 6th album, Proto Retro continues to sharpen their ability in alternating between warm and cold tones in their music. It also does exactly what its name implies - take you back to a time before the “retro” became hackneyed and insincere.
What makes Proto Retro all the more endearing are its sense of deep melancholy. The lyricism and premise of "World's Last Payphone" is heartbreakingly somber. Every jangly riff in tracks like Dead Ray Letters and Gray Blue Green are perfectly placed and executed. The oohs and aahs are usually gorgeous presences in their power pop forays, as are the harmonies in songs like Unfair Weather. The keys on Parachute Powerline is sonic saccharine too. Occasionally, Dot Dash goes into dreamier territory reminiscent of bands like Jesus and the Mary Chain especially in the song “Tamed the Wild Beast” that starts off with a guitar melody made for reverie. Despite having listed down all of these influences, the name Dot Dash have given themselves is still the best summary for their sound - “jangle punk”. This “jangle punk” affectation is found most prominently in the track Sun + Moon = Disguise where you’ve got a kickass riff and a guitar melody that seems to jump through the static as vocalist, Terry Banks, gives a cool guttural performance. If you’re a twentysomething indie rock enthusiast, and you just want a little bit of everything from your bygone (or sometimes imaginary) golden age, varsity days, Proto Retro has got it for you. Although there are moments in the album that might feel too familiar, those cracks are too few and far between. The heart in songwriting and musicianship coming from this band is hard to replicate. My only regret is that I didn’t discover them last year when they actually released the album, because this would definitely be up there on my top albums of 2018 list. RATING: 4 / 5 FAVOURITE TRACKS: Unfair Weather, World’s Last Payphone, Tamed A Wild Beast LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Green On Red