Dot Dash are named after a Wire song and consist of Washington, DC veterans who are old enough to remember Wire from their Pink Flag/154/Chairs Missing days. Terry Banks, when we last tuned in, was co-fronting Julie Ocean with ex-Velocity Girl and ex-Piper Cub Jim Spellman. Julie Ocean ended and now Dot Dash is his latest band. Banks is joined by Julie Ocean bassist Hunter Bennett, Bill Crandall who played in A Modest Proposal in the ’80s and drummer Danny Ingram formerly of Youth Brigade.
Your first question of a band named after Wire might be, do they sound like Wire? Answer: a little, but not tons (song Gripped has a throbbing bass and Banks kind of growls a few lines the way Colin Newman does sometimes and a few other songs have some wirey guitars). Really, though Dot Dash are an amalgam of Banks’ former bands Tree Fort Angst, the Saturday People and Julie Ocean. Banks shared vocal and writing duties in Julie Ocean with Spellman and Saturday People was more of a democracy in the songwriting category. Dot Dash is soley Banks’s band in the way that Tree Fort Angst was. Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash is a album full of power pop songs that Banks delivers with his sometimes whispered, slightly strained voice that has been a constant in all of his bands.
The songs are in the vein of Julie Ocean’s power pop, but there is still some guitar jangle left in him too. Opening song The Color and the Sound has a modish, jabbing riff that reminds me of another DC band from the past, Ted Leo’s Chisel. Dissolve starts out sounding a little like a Tree Fort Angst song, except with a big meaty bass and a swooping angst filled chorus that ends up making it an entirely different beast. The band also know a thing or two about sequencing a record in this age of front-loading. They don’t wear themselves out on the first lap and save some of their best songs for second half of the record. The detective sounding bass and drums of Alright, Alright is smile inducing (and reminds me a little of Max Eider) and the chorus keeps the grin on your face, and Seconds In a Day has a vein of melancholy in it but the jangling guitars and the hook to keep you above water .
This is record with so many good songs. It’s not groundbreaking, just well crafted the whole way through. Every song burns bright, and the each listen to the album, a new one flares into my long term memory. Spark, Flame, Ember, Ash indeed.
Both songs are from Dot Dash’s album Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash, available from The Beautiful Music