Album Reviews

Polka Dot Dot Dot: Syzygy [Album Review]

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Of all the timeless folk and folk-pop musicians that scour the earth, none are more true to the roots than those that possess the lo-fi nature of artists came before… long before. Polka Dot Dot Dot is one such band that follows this particular path, though their subject matter may not be that of an early Western era, nor may the harmonies and melodies. Yet they have a certain efficacious manner about them that bridges the then with the now.

Syzygy also lives true to Polka Dot Dot Dot’s Olympia home, a town that thrives with such music thanks to labels like K and Bicycle (this album can be found on the latter). Appealing from the start, Syzygy carries the listener down a path of soft lo-fi melodies that drop in hand claps and foot stomps (“I Ran Downhill”), cello (“Nautilus Teef”), and the occasional harmony a capella kick-start (“Tree Medley”). Not entirely what you’d expect from an album bearing the release year of 2009.

More often than not, it seems, lo-fi artists are good at creating melodies that are light and fun, or heavy and fun, or just flat out catchy. Polka Dot Dot Dot is all of that, but it’s in their vocals that miraculous things begin to happen. “Fate Of The Ardent/Small Advices” has a strikingly mature vocal pattern backed by powerful harmonies and a skilled banjo. Follow that with an equally intoxicating “Claim Jumper”, featuring an off-beat trumpet and harmony female vocals.

These songs are extremely well thought-out; there’s no just thrown together-ness about them. They are complex in form yet there’s an uncomplicated aspect to each song that makes them all the more elaborate – that’s why Syzygy a notable album, and Polka Dot Dot Dot worthy of attention.

Polka Dot Dot Dot: Ivisibrother [mp3]
[audio:091113-polka_dot_dot_dot-invisibrother.mp3|titles=Invisibrother|artists=Polka Dot Dot Dot]

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Bicycle Records [CD, 2009]

1. Nijewel
2. Invisibrother
3. I Ran Downhill
4. Whale Bottles
5. Nautilus Teef
6. Tree Medley
7. Fate Of The Ardent/Small Advices
8. Things Yet Unseen
9. Claim Jumper
10. Jar Jam
11. Vertigo
12. You’re On The Phone
13. Lullaby Jewel
14. Up All Night
15. On The Up And Up
16. Corriola

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