Normally, when thinking of indie rock, the term conjures images of a certain type of music. Usually, that stereotype is arts/eclectic band retains a distinctly garage rock or low-fi aesthetic. Anyone who knows the local music scene realizes, however -- if you measure indie by an independent attitude and work ethic -- it's far more than a label that has become synonymous with a certain style of music.
Just within Tulsa, our real indie scene touches on dance rock, pop, the classic tones of the "New Tulsa Sound" and much more. And every once in a while, a band pops up that defies categorization and lands in the indie stock pile by default or the nature of its fiercely independent spirit and approach. When listening to the debut disc from Dachshund, it's hard to find a live music club in town where the band truly fits, much less a genre.
For lack of better label, the band describes itself as "progressive indie jazz-rock" and although all of those elements are included in some degree, it still seems an inadequate description. Somehow the band manages to melt down elements of jazz, progressive rock and hints of metal with an approach and mentality that incorporates the kind of eclectic fun and weirdness of equally indescribable local bands like Wighead and GHOSTS.
Looking back, the band originally formed as a side project for Eric Hartley (formerly of Rewake) on guitar and roommate Mike Taylor on drums. Initially, the music started out in a detuned, progressive metal direction, as dictated by the projects limitations as a duo. Andy Jensen was brought in on bass and eventually guitarist Ryan Dannar joined the fold, expanding the band's range and scope.
The expansion of the group into a four piece band opened up the group creatively, both by nature of the band members' diverse influences and the ability to go in a more expansive direction. Over the course of time, Taylor left the band for personal reasons and the group worked with a couple of drummers, including Bee Meddler (of Sam & the Stylees) and Lee Moody, before settling in with current drummer Adam Karlskint.
During that transition, the group continued to write and record (primarily in Hartley's home studio) and eventually assembled the disc that friends and family have been impatiently waiting for. That CD is the appropriately tongue-in-cheek titled The Ballad of Shorty Long, an eight track disc that explores jazz and hard rock progressions side-by-side while retaining a melodic quality throughout.
Although the music itself can be hard to describe, it all ties together with a loping groove. The opening track "Hills to Climb" marries a Frank Zappa-esque guitar riff with hints of Steely Dan at one end and Local H at the other. "Divisionary" starts off with an ambient, artsy intro, then finds its groove and bursts with volume, swinging back and forth with dynamic changes.
A wide spectrum of influences is apparent here, ranging from guitarist/vocalist Dannar's penchant for indie rock to Jensen's love of Yes, Rush and classic rock to Hartley's incorporation of Metallica, pop-punk, punk and progressive metal bands like Helmet, Prong and Tool. When combined, it all comes together in a manner that allows you to trace bits and pieces of each influence without mimicking any one band.
Although Dannar highlights Hartley's heavier influences, Harltey says simply that while earlier material did veer toward the territory of Helmet and Faith No More, that was due to the ease of writing for two people.
"I tend to write more for what a band can do. Now I can write for four people and that has opened up what and how I write..."
Although it's a blend of disparate influences, the band makes it work, largely due to the members' friendship and openness to try anything and everything.
According to Dannar, "We all want to make music that's not exactly mainstream."
The band laughed along in unison as Jensen shared that "we can write some of the most bizarre, weird stuff and our initial reaction is 'Awesome! How many time signature changes were in that?'"
Even so, the band agrees with Dannar's assessment that even though they like to veer from the mainstream, it's still not so far left as to not be catchy or able to appeal to an outside audience.
"We can go really heavy when heavy is appropriate," Jensen explained, "but we're all naturally melodic players."
That melodic undercurrent and Jensen's bass is what ultimately ties everything together. Granted, Dachshund will likely never draw a big mainstream rock audience, but its engaging blend of jazz, indie and progressive rock is enough to keep indie fans and those looking for something just left of center intrigued.
With the debut disc finally finished, the band is ready to start playing out on a more consistent basis and that starts with a CD release show for The Ballad of Shorty Long this Thursday night, Nov. 10, at Hunt Club. The Big O Show (which Jensen also plays with) will open the show at 9pm and set the tone for Dachshund to find its groove and venture out into its progressive indie jazz-rock plane. As confused and confusing as it may sound, it all ties together quite well. Come check it out if you're looking for a break from the norm and dig groove oriented, progressive indie rock.
Fall has finally arrived and while the outside temperature is cooling off, the clubs are still fired up with some great live music. Whether you're looking for a cozy club gig or a big arena show, this week has something for everyone in every genre. Here are the highlights to get you pointed in the right direction.
• Thursday, Nov. 10 -- Main Street is busy in the Brady District on Thursday evening with a handful of interesting shows. Not only is Dachshund releasing its latest with a CD release party at Hunt Club, but Oklahoma City based alt-rockers Aranda play next door at The Marquee. Just down the street, The 71's bring their high energy rock show to the Crystal Pistol with Flash Bangs opening. Meanwhile, Admirals and People, People will rock The Soundpony.
• Friday, Nov. 11 -- A good night for country music fans. If you're more into Texas country and Red Dirt, you'll be at Cain's Ballroom for Casey Donahew Band with JB & the Moonshine Band opening. The Big show of the night, however, is Zac Brown Band at BOK Center. This promises to be one of the best shows of the month as the band wears its country roots on its sleeve, but delivers with great musicianship and a rock attitude that appeals to fans of nearly any genre. Meanwhile, Boxcar Bandits play The Colony and Electric Rag Band holds down Mercury Lounge.
• Saturday, Nov. 12 -- This is the night that has something for everyone. If you're looking for a couple of the hottest rock bands in town, The Del Toros celebrate with a CD release party at Bob's with Fiawna Forte and Penny Hill opening. Punk and dance-rock fans can check out The Fabulous St Knicholas Cage and Guardant at Soundpony, mainstream rock fans can't go wrong with RadioRadio at Hunt Club and Fiddlebacks bring their explosive show to Mercury Lounge for your best bet in the clubs.
The biggest show of the night is in South Tulsa, however, as Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith pair up to tour again for the first time in 20 years for the "2 Friends Tour," which stops at Mabee Center. You can be sure you'll hear a deep catalogue from both with nearly 30 years of songs and the obligatory duet of "Friends" to close things out.
The rest of the week has its highlights as well, so be sure not to overlook Lindsey Buckingham at The Joint on Monday, Nov. 14; Americana icons The Jayhawks at Cain's Ballroom on Tuesday, Nov. 15 or Korn at Brady Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
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