Bands which play with the musical format of the modern pop song are always the most interesting. We have been making music using the same instruments for the last 60 years and with the exception of developments in synths and sampling, little has changed in the basic tools we use to do so. But there have been options available going back much further in time, why shouldn’t instruments more associated with the classical and the orchestral be brought into the pop picture.
The Sneaky Fourth have already worked this out and they use the standard, finger-picked acoustic guitar as well as the less expected cello and double bass to build subtle and supple folk meets classical meets pop music. Without You is a brilliant textural blend of gently sweeping cello and pulsing organic bass lines under pinning guitar lines which move from dexterous picking to vibrant strumming. The result is a glorious new direction for pop, if indeed we can even limit it with such a label.
Of Love is a departure from the minimalist, synth-driven singles DYAN released in the summer of 2016 as they were releasing their debut album, Looking For Knives. With an introduction of warm woodwind chords, Of Love tells a story of a lover, once left, now leaving to find a way forward alone. As the song progresses, instruments creep into the song – guitars, violins, cellos, drums – building a sound to reflect the wide open world you get into when you leave heartache behind.
A trio with roots in Winnipeg, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles, DYAN builds songs out of minimalist synths, layers of atmospheric guitars, and driving rhythms. Alexis Marsh (singer/guitarist/bassist) and Sam Jones (guitarist/synths) co-produced Marsh’s songs between scoring film and television projects; Dan Dorff Jr (drums/synths) joined when the duo was mixing what became the group’s debut album, Looking For Knives. With the band in place, they began translating the music from the studio to the stage, playing their first show at Union Station as part of Live Nation’s Ones To Watch summer concert series in July 2016. Looking For Knives premiered on Billboard late-July 2016 and was preceded by singles “St. James”, “Days Upon Days”, and “Looking For Knives” – each one charting on HypeMachine.
The title track spent two weeks in the top 10 of Spotify’s Viral Chart (both USA & Global), helping push play-count to over 500,000 within a month of its release. Looking For Knives is available on vinyl at vinylmoon.co/dyan.