Dasher’s Sodium feels eerily familiar

sodiumWell, this is a throwback. Sodium is the debut album from Bloomington-based Dasher. Though this may well be the first time we’ve really got to know them, this is a multi-referencing palimpsest of a thing, which feels eerily familiar without ever sounding like a straight up-homage.

When we say ‘them’, it’s really ‘her’ we mean – this is drummer and vocalist Kylee Kimbrough’s project. No want for an interesting backstory here. Having established the band back in Atlanta, and getting as far as being signed by Jagjaguwar (featuring bands you’ve heard of, like Bon Iver, The Besnard Lakes, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and co.), Kimbrough skipped town and ended up in the label’s home city Bloomington.

Having long found herself struggling with holding down jobs and accommodation – she was living with her mother at the time of writing – she has recently been diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism. She did, however, manage to get together a new band, and a few years down the line has managed to put together the album you see being reviewed before your very eyes.

The frustration that she felt over the years without knowing why lies at the heart of music, we’re told. That is certainly credible, if not a little simplistic and at risk of underplaying her success in realising a clear stylistic vision. It’s a maximalist post-punk sort of thing, fuzzy bass providing melodic counterpoints, delay mixing with the distortion of the guitars to give a note of passion to violence, and a piston-engine performance on the drums. The drums serve, says Kimbrough, as a barrier between her and the audience. Indeed, it would probably be safer to stay away if you wanted to avoid a workplace accident.

Let’s not forget the vocals. Those deep-throated, nasty, fuck-off vocals. There’s a generous helping of delay – another barrier between vocalist and audience – which makes them even bigger like you’re being shouted at from the skies by an angry Viking deity. At a stretch, they even sound a little like a nod to the more accessible end of black metal.

It’d be to do it a disservice to suggest it was all rage. There are some nice snatches of post-punk in there, ranging from The Damned to Les Savy Fav, touches of crunchy late-80s grunge (Bleach-era Nirvana, Alice in Chains), and something – this is what makes it really feel like a throwback – of the early 2000s alt rock scene. My Vitriol are playing two shows with And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead later this year – maybe this is what the world is crying out for? If you had slapped Sodium on a bill between the former and Queen Adreena in 2002, well, no one would have batted an eyeliner-doused eyelid. The anger mixed with vulnerability that underscores Sodium would have spoken perfectly to said audience, too sensitive to be into metal, too different to be into pop, too fiery to be into folk.

It’s not the most sophisticated or clever record out there, sure. It is vital and powerful though, and while it sounds like a whole host of other things, it’s addressing an area that seems to be under-serviced in the contemporary music landscape.

Release: 14th July 2017, Jagjaguwar

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