The folk indie duo is far from extinct, as The Dodos and Wye Oak have illustrated with excellent releases this year. The Dodos consist of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber, are based out of San Francisco and have released Visiter in March of this year.
The trouble with the folk indie duo format is that the music often sounds the same and it can be difficult finding a band or album with enough distinctive qualities to set them apart from the usual minimalistic fluff of the genre.
With both of the aforementioned groups and their respected releases, however, that distinctiveness is undamaged and the expedition to get as far away from the fuzz of White Stripes has begun. While Wye Oak relies on an atmospheric approach, The Dodos use a more stripped-down approach to folk music. Long and Kroeber know their melodies, sure, but the fun is in the creation and evolution of each tune.
The Dodos’ Visiter is free-spirited stuff. The melodies unstitch organically and Long and Kroeber play with reckless abandon, putting them a long way ahead of coffee shop darlings and fuzzed-out anonymous bands. The acoustic/percussion/stomping combination serves the songs well as both hand-clappers and reflective ditties.
The over-seven-minute jam on “Joe’s Waltz” runs the range of stomping-good-fun and elegant spacious melodies, showing the range of the group. The album’s lead single, “Jodi,” begins with high-spirited guitar and heads right into breakneck territory with its untidy hoedown sound. And “Ashley,” dedicated to some other flame for certain, plays with backing vocals in such an elated manner that it’s hard not to fall in love. “What are you thinking of? Ashley. Who are you dreaming of? Ashley.” Yeah, me too.
The Dodos have the exceptional ability to play their own sound with such meticulousness that many of the songs feel like disobedient improvisations. The slide guitar on “Paint the Rust” feels every bit like the front porch burner that it should be and actually conjures up visions of Led Zeppelin III, if only for a moment.
Visiter is a mesmerizing album that invites the listener in to the shape-shifting melodies and delicate arrangements without airs. Long and Kroeber bring the fun and adventure of good music back to the surface of the indie genre, blissfully and furtively clomping past sound-alike groups with wild and unyielding delight. The Dodos represent the purity of music and Visiter could not have come at a better time.