Unpredictable but always recognizable, the Dodos meld breezy melodies with the kinetic experimental drumming of Logan Kroeber and the equally nimble guitar playing of lead singer Meric Long. They explored a mix of adventurous folk and indie rock with albums including their indie breakthrough Visiter (2008) and Billboard 200 debut No Color (2011), making alternately more refined or more assertive albums along the way as they gravitated toward an even more intricate, electric guitar-based sound. While remaining melodic, their seventh studio LP, 2018's Certainty Waves, added electronics and noise to the mix. Originally formed in 2006 as Dodobird by multi-instrumentalist Meric Long, San Francisco indie rock duo the Dodos altered the moniker with the arrival of Logan Kroeber, a fellow West Coast artist whose penchant for experimental drumming and progressive metal melded perfectly with Long's interest in West African Ewe drumming and country-blues fingerpicking. The Dodos self-released their debut album, the acoustic Beware of the Maniacs, that same year. Their more adrenalized label debut, Visiter, followed on the Frenchkiss label in 2008 and reached number 31 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Long and Kroeber added electric vibraphonist Keaton Snyder to the fold and collaborated with producer Phil Ek on 2009's Time to Die, which found the trio exploring a more fleshed-out sound. It reached number eight on the Heatseekers chart. For 2011's No Color, the band recruited Neko Case as a supporting vocalist and returned to its Visiter-era approach. No Color landed on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 70. The following year, the Dodos were left in shock by the sudden death of touring member Chris Reimer (also of Canadian outfit Women), who passed away in his sleep. This led Long and Kroeber to reassess the entire band, and for Long in particular, the way he approached songwriting and his guitar work. Their fifth record, the more subdued Carrier, was released in 2013, marking their debut on Polyvinyl. Two years later, the band returned with the more assertive Individ, a set of songs recorded shortly after Carrier. It spent a week at number 50 on the independent albums chart. Following Individ, the band took an open-ended break, and Long eventually recorded an eponymous album under the solo moniker FAN. Released by Polyvinyl in 2017, it was inspired by spending time with synthesizers he'd inherited from his father. The Dodos soon reconvened to record 2018's Certainty Waves. While it stayed rooted in the duo's interdependent guitar and drums, it reflected Long's newfound interest in electronic timbres.
© Marcy Donelson & James Christopher Monger /TiVo
© Marcy Donelson & James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 23, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records
The Dodos' sixth album and follow-up to 2013’s Carrier was recorded in their base of San Francisco at Tiny Telephone on the heels of the Carrier sessions. Individ, however, is neither more of the same from its predecessor nor a break from the past. With grooving, more assertive vibes than Carrier, it has a Visiter-esque exuberance but retains the reflective quality of Carrier. The vitality is evident from the opening track, "Precipitation," with its tight rhythmic interplay between Meric Long's guitar and Logan Kroeber's drums, where the guitar seemingly gets drum parts as the song develops, all seamless in Dodos’ fashion. Without resting this instrumental dance, they visit ‘60s reverb-sweetened pop thickened with odd and mixed meters on "The Bubble," and the punky "Competition" is tasty indie rock single fare with a rousing herky-jerky quality. Moments of relative serenity are still impressively active. The more somber "Darkness" ("Erase all that I write in perfected endings") is packed with relentless, ultra-syncopated percussion and guitar. Whatever the tone of a song, the persistent, intricate instrument work is completely digestible and even catchy; if the Dodos have a trick, this is it, and they have mastered it. “Retriever” attacks with still more accented syncopation without getting monotonous -- it’s fuzzier, and the hyperactive guitar-drums crossfire is pretty electrifying, almost feeling like a live show. Elongated, pleading vocals (“And oh is that the way, the way that you want it still?”) top off the song's raw character. When things get a little proggier on the closer, the seven-minute "Pattern/Shadow" (with backing vocals by Brigid Dawson of Thee Oh Sees), Long's easygoing vocals and grungy guitar effects keep things warm. Altogether, the material is mature, technically proficient as ever, lively, and sounds rough and real; it’s hard to imagine Individ won’t be a hit with fans, intermittent or long-standing. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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