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Dropsonic/Traindodge: Xerxes (EP)

Atlanta's Dropsonic and Oklahoma City's Traindodge come together for a split EP that highlights each band's musical depth and diversity and offers listeners a chance to hear the trios flex their musical muscles together. The EP opens with Dropsonic doing its best wearing and tearing on the aggro, amphetamine stomp "Waiting For The Axe," wherein vocalist/guitarist Dan Dixon, bassist Dave Chase and drummer Brian Hunter capture listeners in a maelstrom of heavy riffing and three-as-one alt hootenanny.

Especially impressive are Dixon's 21st Century blues lead break around the tune's two-minute mark and Chase's underrated melodic bass lines which serve to enhance Hunter's thunderous drum fills. As good as that track as, it's the moody, slow-burner "The Best Thing" that stands as the group's greatest contribution to this release. A tale of nearly unbearable heartbreak, the piece clocks in at just over six minutes but feels far shorter. Dixon's six-string work alternates between disquieting and soothing, his voice conveying a sad, beautiful bruised-ness that conveys more hurt and elicits more empathy from the listener than most rock tracks. And when he delivers the final line末sorry, no spoiler here末it is a perfectly irresolute conclusion as it eloquently belies末or nearly belies末the hurt heard in the rest of the song. Few vocalists in indie rock capture pain with the same accuracy as Dixon and it would be unfortunate for his gifts as a singer to remain underappreciated.

In short, "The Best Thing" is a real gem, a culmination of all things in Dropsonic's past, but a bold strike toward its future. It suggests the elusive American-ness that U2 so desperately sought circa Rattle and Hum, the marriage between open, airy modern European rock and the deep, simmering soul of the dirtiest depths of the Delta and the needle-littered back alleys of Hell's Kitchen.

Traindodge impresses once more with "Bag Of Vipers," which suggests there is a real and weighty progressive rock末or even metal末trio lurking deep in the heart of the Dodge, as brothers Jason and Rob Smith (guitars/vox and drums/keyboards, respectively) and Chris Allen (bass) suggest, via stomp and glory, what might have happened had Metallica continued its glorious ascent to the true pantheon of metal greatness after Master Of Puppets or, at the very least, managed to nail the indie aesthetic the quartet so clearly sought on its rightfully maligned St. Anger. On "Vipers," as on the fistful of rage piece "Stranded," Traindodge shows that it has deservedly earned a slot as one of the most respectable, intelligent and musically-minded units in Midwestern末hell, American末indie rock.

The record's final two tracks, "The Hour" and "Come Out, Come Out," feature collaborations between the outfits. "The Hour" weaves seamlessly many trademark Dodge-isms with the unmitigated audacity of the Droso rhythm section. Some may at first find that it more closely resembles a well-developed jam as opposed to a full-on song but it is far from filler and it, like "Come Out, Come Out," which features another impressive vocal turn from Dixon, proves an inspired and imaginative collaboration.

Track Listing
1. Waiting For The Axe
2. The Best Thing
3. Bag Of Vipers
4. Stranded
5. The Hour
6. Come Out, Come Out

Added: July 4th 2006
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 2721
Language: english

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