Album review: "Sp
In the early 1980s, nearly every D.C. punk band had a Wire tune in its repertoire, so it's not surprising that there's a new local quartet named for a song by that influential group. But Dot Dash is led not by a punker but by a power-popster: Terry Banks, former frontman for Julie Ocean, the Saturday People and Tree Fort Angst.
Dot Dash's debut album, "Spark>flame>ember>ash," doesn't take Banks out of his comfort zone; he's still an exuberant melodist with a thing for '80s British indie-pop. But opening track "The Color and the Sound" pulses rather than jangles, and even the gentlest tracks kick pretty hard. Much of the brawn comes from Banks's new bandmates, who include Danny Ingram, a veteran of the hardcore-punk Youth Brigade, and guitarist Bill Crandall, once of the neo-Mod Modest Proposal.
There's not a clunker among these 14 songs, from "I'm Going Home" with its Byrds-quoting guitars to "Alright, Alright," which most recalls Banks's early work and the pithy yet sweeping "Tragedy/Destiny," which cagily varies its "-y" rhymes with falsetto. As "There and Back Again Lane" implicitly acknowledges, Dot Dash's style is nothing new. But it does have one essential pop ingredient - a fresh spark.
--Mark Jenkins, Nov. 25, 2011