Although Dodger's reputation as an integral part of the current local indie scene is rooted in the group's dubious origin as teenage members of a ska outfit (which should tell you how long they've been involved in bands), it's no secret that despite these roots the group has cultivated a distinct sound for itself and the other bands they work with. Since then, Matt Kamm (vocals/guitars/banjo/synth), Conrad Winslow (vocals/keyboards/piano), Sean Moore (vocals/violins/trumpets/synthesizers/bells), Phil McCombs (bass/vocals) and Miguel Miranda (analog and digital percussion) have been evolving into their present condition, playing eccentric music that combines folk, harmonious '60s pop and classical violins.
To boot, Dodger is also a member of the infamous Funbalaya group `see "Love your neighbors", Dec. 1, 2005` an expansive collective of goofy and childlike indie rock groups. Over December 2005, the band toured with fellow Funbalaya bastion the Ocean Floor for its "Ocean Floor-chestra Tour-chestra," where Dodger performed sets both as accompaniment for the Ocean Floor and as themselves.
Given Dodger's history, it seems odd that the band is only now putting out its first record. Regardless, it's a welcome addition. The self-titled EP released by Post Records on Feb. 23 is a 16-minute collection of jaunty and playful songs that show where the band came from. The EP doesn't have the sophisticated song structure or intricate melodies the band now possesses; instead, it comprises songs the band has been mulling over for the past few years. "It shows where we were at a younger age, but it doesn't show what we're capable of now," Miranda says.
"We see the EP as a nice, brief hello," Kamm says.
Kamm says that he is especially excited about the release because while people have been able to download Dodger tracks, fans can finally have the art to coincide with the music. In fact, Kamm does most of Dodger's eccentric artwork the poster for the CD release party depicts banjo-playing penguins and flowers with eyes and, as Winslow puts it, he "has created Dodger's visual aspect."
In terms of current songwriting, the process has become more intricate and depends largely on recording techniques. Kamm says that everyone contributes in the sense that if someone plays something that has potential, the other members will build around it because such "tangents suggest instrumentation."
Miranda says that the band's current sound tends to take in whatever each member happens to be listening to. That certainly is a feat when you realize that Kamm is into T. Rex, Tortoise and Talking Heads; McCombs is listening to Nick Drake and Radiohead; Winslow is into Donovan and classical composers like Fauré; and Miranda is listening to experimental electronic music.
However you describe them, though, stay clear of the Beatles comparisons. It's a comparison they hear all too often.
"I thought we stopped sounding like the Beatles in high school," Kamm says.
"It's just that the Beatles paved the way for so many types of music," Winslow continues. "So everybody sounds like them."
Instead, Kamm, jokes, "You can think of us as three dudes who are connoisseurs of pop, and two members who are classically trained."
with Mumpsy, Eagle Seagull, Band Marino
9 pm Thursday, Feb. 16