Dot Dash – Proto Retro

Washington D.C.’s Dot Dash have been churning out strong records at a steady clip for close to a decade now. The members of the band have been a part of some pretty well-known bands in the past – Julie Ocean, Youth Brigade, and Swervedriver, for a start – but Dot Dash is its own entity. A strong one, at that. A classic power pop trio that sounds both retro and modern in the present day, they are a gem in the indie music community. Comprised of Terry Banks on guitar & vocals, Hunter Bennet on bass, and Danny Ingram on drums, their latest long player Proto Retro is their 6th album and their finest yet.

The album revels in girl group sounds, mod fashions, and impeccable melodies. Think Television Personalities meets the Ramones meets The Jam. And yet, despite the notoriety of the bands listed there, it almost seems a disservice to Dot Dash. This is a strong, strong record (twice for emphasis!). Unfair Weather is nice slab of pop punk that gets the record started off on the right foot. Lyrically, this is hilarious – it reminds me of the anglophiles I’d see at shows in Philadelphia in the late 90’s (I was one of them too, let’s be honest). “I was hell bent on fake leather / Don’t call it a jumper, you know it’s a sweater / Stop saying cheers (no one says that here) / Started out laughing, ended in tears.” Gray Blue Green initially reminded me of Ned Atomic Dustbin’s Gray Cell Green just based on the song title. This is a different animal however – a melodic slice of melancholy that gives the album a nice 1-2 punch right out of the gates. TV/Radio has the best bass lines on the album – it had me tapping on my desk as I listened along. Sing / shouty with melody, what’s not to love? It also throws some shade towards the headlines of the day “To the man in a wig talking about China / You’ve gotta lose it if you want to find it / It’s on the TV, it’s on the radio”. World’s Last Payphone is an ode to those curious abandoned structures on street corners that harken back to an earlier time. I love the longing in Terry Banks’ vocals as he sings “I’m calling from the world’s last telephone / I’ve gone back in time, please remain on the line”. The album ends with the punk inflected Sun + Moon = Disguise, a 2-minute thrasher about the end of a relationship. A killer way to sign off.

The album is available here and is well worth your time and investment. I’m interested to see what comes next from Dot Dash and am hoping for a Seattle or Portland show one of these days!

Verdict: Modern & Retro

For Fans of: Buzzcocks, Television Personalities, The Jam, Ramones, The Chameleons

Tracks:

  1. Unfair Weather
  2. Gray Blue Green
  3. Dead Letter Rays
  4. Parachute Powerline
  5. TV/Radio
  6. Tamed a Wild Beast
  7. Triple Rainbow
  8. Fast Parade
  9. World’s Last Payphone
  10. Green on Red
  11. Run & Duck for Cover
  12. Sun + Moon = Disguise

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