Analogue, the debut EP from Dingzui, sounds like the work of a much older band. Not to say that these guys are dated or sound like dad-rock—quite the contrary. The album maintains the production value of seasoned studio vets, has a coherence between songs and as a whole that bands spend years pursing, and, by and large, throws back to under-appreciated and underrepresented indie/alt rock bands from the past 25-or-so years—all without feeling the overtly derivative or cliched.
While Dingzui draws on some archetypical sounds from the past couple-odd decades, their sound is also peppered with little parts that recall a whole list of alt/indie-rock backs from recent eras. Upon a glance, it's easy to note a strong alt-country/indie-rock style in the vein of Wilco—and similarities with that band are evident throughout. But Wilco themselves are a band that draw from a deep pool of influences and could be lumped into any number of categories, depending on where in their timeline you sample from. On Analogue, in just half a dozen tracks, Dingzui charts a similar path, recalling the likes of Pavement, REM, Heatmiser, Marcy Playground, The Verve, Luna, Interpol and and early era Foo Fighters.
Whew—with a list list like that you'd almost expect find a band all over the place or simply searching for a sound in many different directions, but instead that diversity is indicative of the simple complexity within their songs. While ostensibly following a straightforward rock song model, tracks on this album find room within the intro/verse/chorus/bridge model to change things up a little each time they swing around that chorus. They might extend a bridge so that it builds in a way other than just adding effects and intensity, or maybe by making parts like the intro or outro truly unique aspects of the song rather than stripped-down or piled-on variations of the main riff. This pension for distinguishing the different movements within a song gives Dingzui ample opportunity to pack a whole bunch of little guitar ideas and vocal melodies into songs about four minutes long.
Analogue is lent a greater degree of coherence by the way the songs play off of each other, with the album maintaining a cyclical nature. Both the first and the last song lilt a bit more in the roots-y, folk direction, the first easing the listening in with a sparse, picked out the riff, the latter ushering them out with the leisured intensity of a guitar riff sinking into ambient sound. The middle couple of track are the more straightforward rockin' numbers.
The album works so well viewed as a whole, with all its songs operating on the same level, its hard to pick one or two as standout tracks. While the lyricism is on point throughout—but never in your face— the track “Ouija” has a particularly good line that's representative of the conflicted optimism of the album: “I wish the two of us were healthy, but all the same I'm glad you're like me.” That track is also indicative of the model that works so well for songs on the record, with starts, stops and little breakdowns that temper the upbeat verses. That song also has, like many others, a great bridge at the end that gently peels the song away and leaves room for the next.
Doubtlessly, the album is also tied together in no small part due to deft production work of Mike Martel at The Sanctuary in the band's hometown of Nashville. Martel, who both recorded and mixed Dingzui, presumably also played an important role in the use of ambient sounds and field recordings that populate the background at the start and end of each song. In addition to all of the instrumentation and musicianship that ties the album together, that element proves to be the icing on the cake when it comes to the overall coherence of the record.
Analogue is great album, simultaneously conveying the comfort of the classic sounds in invokes as well as feeling utterly contemporary and in its place. Any cheesiness that could come with drawing on a more straightforward era of the nineties, where pop and rock often stood side by side, is belayed by great breakdowns, subtly unique song structure and excellent outro sections. In that way Dingzui allows you to have your cake and eat it too, your shamelessly catchy melodies and your indubitably respectably crafted songs.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook