REVIEW: DASHA – DAMNED IF WE DO (2009)
Rochester isn’t very known nationally as a music hotbed despite its advantageous location between Toronto and New York City. Hence it’s little surprising that Dasha dipped below many people’s radars last fall with Damned If We Do. The album, released via the tiny label Whaleplane, takes the likes of early-mid 2000s post-rock/indie, and amplifies it to a new level.
Although the 9 tracks rolls barely past 21 minutes, Dasha’s debut is addictively bite-sized. It managed to hold my attention similar to nearly a decade ago before today’s fleeting musical blogosphere meetings that demand not only the next sugary pill but Ritalin to slow the overwhelming flow. Let’s take closer “We Are In The Dark” as a case study…
Singer Colleen Vasey instantly offers off pop vocals over intelligent lyrics, the kind Denali gave except brighter and much more melodic. Usually when band uses a female singer, she’s the spotlight, the focus for the audience’s attention. Dasha does it all, balanced and equally, evident as Nick Maynard and Tommy Vollmer shift the gears laid by Nick Fiske’s guitarwork. the slow build, like any well-oiled machine, is smooth as “We Are In The Dark” progresses. Chorused vocals, dropped isolated drums only show the band is comfortable at such an early stage to hand the reigns to each other-a rarity for a debut.
Opener “Little Ghosts” was that first sample, with an addictive, heavy bass line introducing Damned…. The dichotomy between Maynard and Vasey works wonders, letting her voice soar as he lays heavy, intricate groundwork beneath. Guitars are prominent, elaborate without being exaggerated as Chris Bonawitz and Nick Fiske show on “Leather Sweater.” Although the recording itself lacks the depth, a range the band would hugely benefit from, Matt Avery surely knows his way around the boards better than most to produce the clear, unencumbered audio that allows Dasha to clearly resonate.
If “The Future Mr. Olivia Benson” is any indiction, Dasha has the potential to come out with “wait, who’s that?” pausing songs with Colleen’s choruses. I’m not saying they’re the next big indie/punk-influenced band, but they can take the torch from the forerunners on sheer musicianship alone.