Dangerbird/Speak ‘N Spell, 2009

2009 is the year of the album. There have been a decade’s worth of historic recordings within the span of nine months, and with a quarter of the year remaining, we’re not even finished yet. With that in mind, the natural listening shift should favor the brilliant, and reject the unembellished, leading those who search for wheat to cast away the chaff. So, for all you wheat harvesters out there, here are four reasons to absolutely devour the new Dappled Cities album, Zounds.

1. Their name is freakin’ gold.

I know, this doesn’t really pertain to the music. But it does pertain to the mythos of the rock gods. No one would ever, ever follow a band with a stupid name. History proves this. The bands who will, and have, stood the test of time have a name to match: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, these are epic. Even today’s modern gods-in-training have stellar names, such as Radiohead or Wilco. Dappled Cities. It slides off the tongue, it begs for you to preach its gospel out in the music-barren jungles of the office or a weekend barbecue. “Sure, Third Eye Blind has a new album, that’s nice. But have you heard the new Dappled Cities?” The name does all the work for you.

2.  Dappled Cities embrace New Wave and modern rock sounds without becoming indentured to them.

It’s mighty refreshing to hear a band tip their cap to a musical sound without becoming neo- or post- [insert music genre here]. Listen to how similar the track “The Night Is Young At Heart” sounds like an open to a Killers’ song. Dave Rennick’s strain so akin to Brandon Flowers, the thump and hiss of bass drums and toms, the synths. It’s all there. And yet the goofy timing and chord structure, especially on the chorus, completely sets it apart. And the music isn’t static at all, before this song you could have almost sworn you were listening to Neil Hannon. Later on “Apart” the band channels a sort of silliness and driving rhythm that Spencer Krug might indulge in. Which brings us to point 3:

3.  The song “Apart” is one of the funnest songs you’ll hear all year.

Believe it. The groans of the guitars and the mischievous percussion all build towards the memorable, anthematic opening, “I’m a part and a part of being a part of something/Is there something to lean upon”. None of the album is straight-forward, lyrically, but this song is just fun with words. It should remind music snobs of the kind of fun they had the first time they heard “My Girls”, not particularly heavy or didactic, but constructed in a way that lets the music absorb the words.

4.  There’s all sorts of replay here.

Dappled Cities’ music in its purest form is entirely accessible, but their arrangements are not. None of the record is lazy, and repeating tracks are all but a must. In the fifty five minutes it takes to listen, it’s a mind-bogglingly satisfying album, but one that’ll leave its listener wanting to investigate further into the “how”s and “why”s.

It’s hard to imagine a talent like this staying under the radar for much longer.  Dappled Cities’ music has progressed impressive lengths in their three albums, and surely an iTunes featured-single-of-the-week here or a Spin’s hot-new-band-spotlight-column there will be all it takes to catapult them into mainstream awareness.