Mythical prog rock. I mean, Menno-gospel rock. I mean, it’s a lot like rock and roll but sometimes I think of the Bible. Not in a bad way. More in the dragons and fairytales sense.
And I think that’s fair. This was my second time seeing Dutch Elm and I was really looking forward to it. Last time they struck me as something new. I haven’t heard a sound quite like what these guys have.
That’s where the mythic-ness comes in. It seems that they mix classical choral type arrangements with a certain intensity of voice, prog-rock beats and well-thought out song structure. They’re a fairly simple-seeming arrangement, you know, three dudes. But they do well to make their sound big and faceted, evoking a range of different reactions from the audience throughout their performance.
It was also one of the first Thursdays I saw totally packed. Dutch Elm brought the Falcon Lake crew in to see their set probably because the Falcon Lake friends like their music. It was fun to watch a relatively new and small act have so much pull.
They’re pretty fucking loud. And they have some amazing changes in their music. I call them prog because they’re unafraid of dynamics and rhythm changes in every piece. Both the bassist and guitarist sing as well, and most of the time they’re striking a tense harmony. It sounds like each one sort of stresses their voice for an alarming warble, the sort of tone that Lemongrab from Adventure Time carries in his screaming. It’s lovely.
The drummer was mesmerizing. Granted, yeah, everyone has to keep up with the changes. But it’s the drummers job to forge the path, lead the way, and hold everyone things together as they move through time-adventure. And this guy did a great job of that, all the while looking like he was driving a boat on a hot August afternoon. He also had this big auxillary percussion cymbal type thing that reminds me of a UFO. I’d like to call it the UFO. And this is my second time seeing it. I remember asking about the UFO at their first snow, when they played with Umami, and someone explained it to me. I think they just found it somewhere and like the sound. It’s not quite a professional drum UFO, if those are a thing to exist, but the drummer used it in a really tactile and impactful way. It didn’t come through often, or it didn’t get played a lot, but when it did it brought a sort of kinetic energy to the room that only big vibrations carry.
You can tell these guys have some training. I mean, their vocals are increidbly well put together. I’ve never seen harmonies so finely walk the line between irritable and absolutely engaging. I mean, at times. They can harmonize very well and carry some very sweet, soft, gutsy and gentle notes through to my heart. But I really love the tension they can build between each voice. There’s something there, maybe they’re purposefully wavering over the line to being sharp, or maybe they just planned the notes to match up to make me just uncomfortable enough, but either way it grabs my attention, holds my ears in place and makes me feel like I’ve never heard this before.
It’s not often I get to feel like I’m hearing something brand new. I can’t even pick out influences in these guys (yet?), besides like Sunday School or choir practice. How do you write such dynamic and rolling songs? I feel like I should be galloping across the plains outside some hobbit holes or something you know. Maybe more dragons than hobbits, but you get me.