Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

All of Dignan impresses at The Opolis

November 18, 2009

South Texas band Dignan may have arrived on the stage quietly, and there was no pomp and circumstance as the five members of Dignan unpretentiously and unassumingly began their set. But that certainly didn’t last long, as the band launched into their thumping, pounding live show at the Opolis in Norman, Oklahoma. Their strong, big sound and masterly cohesive performance seemed all the more impressive given their humble attitudes.

Each band member had something special to offer to the show. Lead singer and guitarist Andy Pena sounded like he was putting his whole heart and soul into his vocals. Between the powerful and often dark songs, Pena would utter a soft, “Thank you. Thanks for listening,” before again giving it all he had.

Balancing harmonies were provided by keyboardist Heidi Plueger and David Palomo, who played accordion, glockenspiel, trumpet, or other instruments as needed. Plueger’s melodies on the keyboard fit perfectly with the group’s sound by softening the timbre a bit (but not too much), and Palomo’s diverse array of instrumentation always added a slight kick, punch, or accent that shook things up. At one point when the glockenspiel threatened to escape from its stand, nearly tipping over, Palomo didn’t miss a beat and continued to provide harmonies. (Luckily someone in the front helped him out.)

Bassist Devin Garcia was responsible for a lot of what made the songs sound so full, driving, and forceful. While Dignan’s drummer was unable to be present at this show, his substitute Bryan Yeager seemed very natural in the role. Yeager proved that you don’t need a big, fancy drum set to do big and fancy things. Even with his sparse setup, Brian showed himself to be a creative and innovative musician. He was quite able to do more with less.

Also impressive about many of the songs performed was their organic and logical progression to a climax. The Opolis crowd appreciated it every time. Dignan played many songs from their recent release Cheaters & Thieves, but one particular highlight was definitely the energetic “Two Steps.” Check out this song and others on their myspace, where the album is also now available. Dignan will continue their current tour with several shows in Texas, concluding in a show with Cursive in their hometown McAllen, Texas.

Some notes and some songs

January 11, 2009

To keep all you readers in the loop: this upcoming week is going to be kinda scattershot with the posts. On the 19th we’re going to start regular daily posting, and even that will be erratic for a week or two as we get used to our new system. Bear with us. The rust is pretty thick after eight months, you know. It’s tough to shake it off quickly.

Some stuff to tide you over:

David Shultz has a beautiful new demo up called “Down the Road.” You can check it out at end of his player on his Myspace.

Novi Split has three new demos posted. My favorite Novi Split songs are demos, so this is awesome. In fact, Keep Moving was nothing but demos (as evidenced by the fact that follow-up Pink in the Sink sounded like what would have happened on Keep Moving if more than one instrument was playing at a time). As with most things Novi Split, these three new songs are gorgeous, precise and will stick with you.

I stumbled across obscure songs by Jim Ward (Sparta/Sleepercar) and Tim Kasher (Cursive/The Good Life) on this myspace. I own this album (the My Favorite Songwriters compilation album, put out to celebrate Five One, Inc.‘s ten-year anniversary), and it’s a pretty solid comp with all-original tracks. The overall mood is a little bit darker than I usually listen to on a whim, but it’s hard to knock any of the tracks.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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