Wednesday, January 27, 2010

33. Concentration – Dog Day (2009)

(Taken from SCQ’s Top 20 Albums of 2009:)

From the moment I first heard Concentration on a Soundscapes listening-post, I sensed that I’d stumbled upon something irreplaceable. On the surface it sounded like a straight-forward indie-rock album but there was something to its feel, as if each chord and vocal were swamped in humid darkness and embracing that cool caress. Between Seth Smith’s vocals seemingly coated in post-punk echo and atmospheric rifts which occasionally boiled up out of nowhere, Concentration held pop songs – dark but catchy nonetheless. And as these tracks followed me around the next several months, these tracks further revealed themselves; the clinking glasses and bar chatter that swirls around ‘Saturday Night’’s close, that pristine guitar jam which turns the romantic pop of ‘Rome’ into something far greater, or the devastating breakdown that transforms ‘Judgement Day’. An indie-rock record that towers over its countless competitors usually has a calling-card, be it the rhythmic propulsion of The National, Grizzly Bear’s four-part harmonies, or the sincere psychedelia of Animal Collective. Dog Day have a calling-card, that much I’m sure of, but pinpointing its gears at work is far tougher since each member of the quartet contributes such distinctive measures to a composition. The way these songs shift and pulse, it seems positively shameful to label Dog Day something as bland as indie-rock… but if that’s the most apt descriptor available, I’ll happily pronounce Concentration the best indie-rock record of the year.

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