'Winter Garden Light'
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, November 9, 2012
An unexpected coalition of Washington’s punk and pop-rock tribes, Dot Dash proved melodic, dynamic and surprisingly cohesive on its 2011 debut album, “Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash.” The quartet’s follow-up, “Winter Garden Light,” is even better -- or at least sounds better.
Singer-guitarist Terry Banks is a remarkably consistent composer, so the quality of the songs isn’t an issue. But this time the musicians integrate their styles more completely and the production style is cleaner and more layered. Backing vocals boost the tracks “Faraway” and “Countdown,” and Banks’s and Bill Crandall’s trebly guitars airlift “La-La Land” and “Shouting in the Rain.”
The four musicians (including drummer Danny Ingram and bassist Hunter Bennett) have been making music for two decades in such local bands as Julie Ocean, Modest Proposal and Youth Brigade. But this album’s pastoral title doesn’t mean they’re in a reflective mood. Ingram and Bennett still take their cues from British punk, and even the mid-tempo songs have as much snap as pop. “The Devil’s Road” has a bluesy strut, likely a first for a Banks number. The members of Dot Dash may be refashioning their ’70s and ’80s favorites, but “Winter Garden Light” demonstrates that there are still exhilarating ways to do that.