Granddance – Dappled Cities

Post Author:

I would say that this album falls along the Shins-Chills-Built to Spill axis because it makes me feel like I’m driving back to college in my Jetta wearing jeans. The jeans are tight with maybe an artistically placed hole. Except that these Dappled Cities fellows are a little more serious- there’s none of the playful naming of songs like The Shins’ “Caring is Creepy,” or the childish insistence of the Built to Spill lyric “I wanna see it now” from their song “Car.” This band has more grandeur to it. Indeed, the rather aggravating song “Granddance,” after which the album Granddance is presumably named, is so excessively overwrought that it sounds like it belongs in a Broadway musical (the technical prowess of singer Tim Derricourt adds to this impression, sounding like an Aussie Jeff Buckley or Elvis Costello). I’m not sure what a granddance is, except that in the liner notes the band thanks their fellow bands and friends for teaching it to them, but I suspect it has something to do with the grandiosity of the Dappled Cities brand of Intelligent Guitar Pop (IDP). The lyrics to the song opaquely hint that “the pace of the granddance/this is the rise and fall/of leaps and pauses.” And indeed, the album showcases a dizzying array of time signature changes, but manages to pull it off–like the Gravitron at an amusement park that lowers the ground but spins fast enough to prevent you from falling. Also adept at defying natural forces are the singers on this album, who have absolutely no problem reaching the upper echelons of the musical spectrum (like the Beach Boys, these fellows have a fondness for falsetto). In the hands of Dappled Cities, this preference is less cute than exquisite. As for their album, Granddance is richly wrought, well done, possibly forgettable, in a liminal state between the early ’00 datedness of the soundtrack of Garden State and the transcendence of Jeff Buckley. The more I listen, the more I get sucked into its swirling sandpit of catchy hooks and smooth vocals; the more my butt unwittingly cleaves to its ass-grooved couch.