Without question, San Francisco’s the Dodos are one of the most critically-acclaimed bands to launch from the Bay Area in the past few years. The Dodos have recently evolved into a three piece act with the addition of vibraphone player Keaton Snyder, but at the time of the release of their well-regarded 2008 album Visiter (which happens to be today’s Local Pairing) they were only a duo consisting of songwriter/guitar player Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber. Before forming the Dodos, Long had been playing as a solo musician around San Francisco (and had released a solo album entitled Dodo Bird during that time) when he was introduced to Kroeber through a mutual friend. Based on Long’s training in West African Ewe drumming and Koeber’s experience playing in metal bands, they wanted to forge a sound that allowed the drumming to take a central roll that could help develop the melodies of the acoustic guitar.
Visiter opens up somewhat deceptively, with the relatively straight-forward melody of album opener “Walking.” If upon your first listen you thought to yourself, “Oh, this is just another indie-folk album,” I’m sure you weren’t alone. After all, “Walking” is dressed in all of the wrappings of the stereotypical indie folk tune: acoustic guitar, finger-picked banjo and lovely female backing harmonies. But suddenly, as the song comes to an end, “Walking” blends into the polyrhythmic percussion and nearly scattershot channel-panning guitar riffs of the track “Red and Purple.” It’s during “Red and Purple” that you’d probably realize there is a lot more going on with the Dodos than the genre label “indie folk” can accurately contain. Indeed, I can’t think of any indie-folk cuts that sound as imminently ready to split at the seams and explode the way “Joe’s Waltz” and “Jodi” do. And whatever genre label you do choose to apply to Visiter, there is no question that it is unique, engaging and catchy without being compromising. A few highlights include “Winter,” “Red and Purple,” “Fools,” “Winter,” and “Jodi.” If you don’t already own it, and you are looking for a great, solid record to add to your collection – this would be a good one to pick up. As always, you can get it at Insound.
Definitely stop by eating/sf to read about Taylor’s Automatic Refresher in Napa where you can pick up one of the best burgers I’ve ever tried!