I’ve got to say that one of my favorite things about the current music industry is this strong resurgence of jam band music and culture that’s been going on for the past several years. As someone who wishes they had been alive to witness the explosion of psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and the jam band scene in the ’60s and ’70s, I am extremely happy about the genre’s relatively unimpeded longevity. After the Grateful Dead’s disbandment in 1995 as a result of guitarist and frontman Jerry Garcia’s death, the band Phish stepped in to fill the gap. Although they never achieved quite the amount of success and popularity that the Dead had, they certainly helped to keep the scene alive for the next decade. They were also an integral part of the rise of large-scale music festivals in the modern era. If you think about all of the festivals that host yearly events now – Bonnaroo, Coachella, Camp Bisco, Rootwire, Lightning in a Bottle, All Good, Wakarusa – the list goes on and on.
Dopapod is a group that is quickly rising to the forefront of the jam band scene. Born in 2007, they recently released their third studio album, Redivider, on 12/21/12. The entire record was recorded in a barn at Tyrone Farm, a solar powered farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. Despite the fact that it was released less than a year after their previous album, Drawn Onward (side note: if you haven’t picked up on this yet, the band really likes palindromes), there is nothing about Redivider that gives away any sense of rushed preparation. As a matter of fact, the entire thing is pure, musical gold.
How do I know that this band makes amazing music? Because it’s impossible for me to describe their sound in a sentence, a paragraph, or even this entire blog post. The fusion of styles that they’ve come up with is something so unique that I doubt anyone other than themselves could replicate. Just when you think you’ve got them pegged down as a funk ensemble, they give you a high-octane dose of…metal? Electronica? Jazz fusion? Dopapod surely embodies the true definition of a jam band; there is never a single dull moment in their music, and rarely do you hear anything twice.
The level of musicianship present on Redivider is off the charts, regardless of how you judge such a thing. If your idea of stellar musicianship is the ability to pull off rigorously rapid riffage, then you’re in luck. If you associate it with the tightness of the band’s groove, then you’re in luck. If you think that flexibility and versatility is key above all else, then you’re in luck. If you think I’m exaggerating, then I suggest grab the band’s album and take a listen yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
I had the chance to see these guys back in Richmond, VA once, but I unfortunately missed it, to my eternal regret. That being said, seeing videos of their live performances online only cements my opinion of them. They bring their A-game every single time (or whatever cliché you want to use). The interaction and transfer of energy on stage is incredible. When it comes down to it, there’s simply no replacement for live music, and Dopapod stands as a testament to that.
So let’s talk about this bountiful cornucopia of musical entertainment, shall we? Redivider starts out with an grungy industrial SFX intro to draw you in before launching right into “Braindead.” The mysteriously French accordion riff at the beginning gives you no warning for the mammoth of a song to come. Just within the first minute and a half of the piece, I was reminded strongly of bands ranging from The Black Keys to Snarky Puppy, from Tool to the Beatles. Additionally, if you’re a fan of groups like Ultraviolet Hippopotamus or Papadosio, then you’ll be immediately at home with Dopapod.
From there, it’s a whirlwind of sound that throws just about everything but the kitchen sink. “Bubble Brain” is up next with a seriously funky soul influence, complete with some insane shredding by Eli Winderman on the organ and Moog synth. “Trapper Keeper” starts off with something curiously reminiscent of Jamiroquai, before adding a harder rock edge. I’m reminded strongly of a modern version of Emerson, Lake & Palmer with “Vol. 3 #98,” and “Give It a Name” calls forth a definitively hard ’90s rock vibe. “Get to the Disc,” “Ooze Weapon,” and “Fry the Gorillas” are all brief experimental electronic respites from the action, and the album ends in true Dopapod fashion with “Weird Charlie,” perhaps the most blisteringly intense number of them all.
Redivider is a serious treasure trove of musical genius. It’s innovative, original, fun-loving, and impeccably groovy. From Chuck Jones’s ridiculously funky bass action to Rob Compa’s fantastically frenetic guitar playing, to Eli Winderman – the proggy wonder – on keyboards, to Neal Evans’s sizzling syncopation on the drums, every member of this band adds a huge piece to the pie. And you know what? I love pie. In the case of Dopapod’s music, I prefer to have my pie and eat it too. Wait no, that’s cake. Hmmm, you get the point – listen to this album!