April 30, 2010
With MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter having made musicians so accessible, artists and listeners now seem to be missing some of the distance that, not so long ago, created an air of mystique around our favorite bands. Acts like the Tough Alliance, Blank Dogs, and Burial have made being unknowable desirable in the Internet era. That there's so little information on Worcester, Mass. five-piece Dom may be partly due to the fact that they've only been a band for a few months, but then again, the group's endlessly quotable Rising interview with Pitchfork earlier this month had no shortage of willful obscurity: Lead singer Dom declined to share his last name, and blurred the line between fact and fiction so nonchalantly that it became hard to know if anything he said could be believed at all.
Dom's incorrigible swagger carries over to their debut EP, Sun Bronzed Greek Gods, already sold out on cassette, and available on 10" vinyl early next month. Their demo-level production, surf-rock licks, cavernous reverb, and "psychedelic sampling elements"-- as the singer described it in a Craigslist ad recruiting band members last December-- might lead some people to align the group with chillwave. But their arena-size choruses, actual drummer, and overall don't-give-a-fuck spirit put Dom in a category of their own. In truth, the majority of their tracks are closer in tone to the female-fronted college-rock bands that hailed from their home state in the 90s, relying less on consumer synths than fuzzed-out guitars, revving bass, and lockstep drums.
The phrase "do it yourself" gets thrown around a lot, but "do your own thing" is a better goal, and Dom both embody and challenge that ideal. They sing about ecstasy and basement parties, yet their mini-anthem "Burn Bridges" could cross over as easily as Passion Pit, a band who tried, to no avail, to sign Dom to their own Black Bell label earlier this year. The electro fuzz on "Living in America" comes straight from French house, but it's subverted by an intentionally vapid chorus ("It's so sexy/ To be living in America"), which Dom himself acknowledges as "a 'YMCA'-type track that I would be best known for but forever hate myself for writing." What else would you expect from a 22-year-old who dismisses the troubled upbringing of Girls frontman Christopher Owens as "probably just his publicist's idea" right after discussing his own childhood experiences in foster homes?
Maybe Dom lie so they can get away with telling the truth. Their song "Jesus" is laced with drug references and movie-theater make-outs, but longs for the kind of substance that can't be abused: "Gimme gimme/ Something to believe in." That brand of subtle, detached malaise is present throughout the record, from the wistful noise-pop number "Hunny" to minor-key closer "I Wonder". But ultimately, what makes Sun Bronzed Greek Gods work is the band's innate understanding of the power of a killer hook, and their ability to turn them out effortlessly on each of the EP's seven tracks. Sincere, sharp, catchy, funny-- maybe these songs are all you need to know about Dom after all.
Unedited draft after the jump: