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Standout Track: No. 8, “I’m Going Home,” the latest evidence that D.C. will always have a jangle-pop underground, not to mention jangle-pop supergroups. Frontman Terry Banks (ex-Glo-Worm) and bassist Hunter Bennett (ex-Weatherhead) used to play in Julie Ocean with Velocity Girl’s Jim Spellman and Severin’s Alex Daniels. Dot Dash’s lineup is still engineered to make soaring pop tunes—guitarist Bill Crandall played in local mod act A Modest Proposal in the ’80s—but it’s also got serious punk chops in Youth Brigade drummer Danny Ingram.
Musical Motivation: “I’m Going Home” is one of the first songs Banks, 46, brought to Dot Dash. He acknowledges its debt to The Byrds: “I kind of hate retro music, but I really like music from the past,” the Chevy Chase resident says. “It has a ’60s pop thing, but we play it more recklessly.” The song seems to detail a goodbye, but Banks says he isn’t going for specificity. “My songs generally aren’t about a certain episode or a certain thing,” he says. “They’re kind of in the vapor, lyrically. But I know if I have good words, I write a melody around it.”
Morse Mythology: Yes, they’ve been asked this before—Dot Dash is named for a song by Wire, kind of like how Julie Ocean was named for a song by The Undertones. Banks says he’d just as soon tell people that Dot Dash refers to the first Morse code message, sent between D.C. and Baltimore in 1844, but then he’d be stretching the truth. At least good indie pop, like good code, keeps things simple. “I don’t like to make it some sort of device or gimmick; that’s as bad as having 10-minute songs,” says Banks. “But I do love short songs.”
Dot Dash performs with Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody on Sept. 28 at DC9.