Standout Track: No. 2, “Flowers,” a peppy adrenaline rush that channels late-’70s mod revival and jangly college rock in equal measure. Propelled by a bouncing bass line, Dot Dash frontman Terry Banks sings from the perspective of an old soul who escapes into nostalgic mid-century dance crazes like the Mashed Potato. “Flowers” is the shortest track on new album Earthquakes & Tidal Waves, and like an ideal sock hop song, it radiates ephemeral, youthful glee before it disappears in a flash.
Musical Motivation: Banks says he had a ’60s girl-group vibe in mind when he wrote “Flowers” but wanted to avoid composing a deliberate retro pastiche. The songwriting process was quick and intuitive, he says, and it resulted in “a really simple, elemental thing that kind of rocks.” Producer Mitch Easter, who fronted the jangle-pop band Let’s Active and sat behind the board for R.E.M.’s early output, brings “Flowers” to life on the album with a clean mix that leaves room for Banks’ vocals to dance around distorted guitar chords. “He was kind of a hero of mine back in the day,” Banks says of Easter.
A Common Thread: The members of Dot Dash have résumés stacked with stints in notable D.C. bands. Banks played with Slumberland signee the Saturday People and joined Dot Dash bassist Hunter Bennett in local power-pop supergroup Julie Ocean; drummer Danny Ingram co-founded Youth Brigade and guitarist Steve Hansgen played bass in both Minor Threat and Government Issue. Despite their diverse musical backgrounds and tastes, Banks says his bandmates find common ground in the “intensity and energy” that accompanies even their most accessible melodies: “We all like good songs and pop songs, but we couldn’t stand to do them in a sort of formalist way.”
Dot Dash plays a free show Sat. May 9 at the 18th Street and Columbia Road NW plaza. Listen to “Flowers” after the jump.