De Novo Dahl, the Nudie suit (Gram Parsons made those rhinestone studded and embroidered suits famous) wearing Nashville-based band with a knack for writing indie-rock that you can actually shake your tailfeather to, definitely sets themselves apart from their peers with their bold optimism and celebratory persona (think a more rocking, less orchestral but just as joyful Polyphonic Spree). Their brightly colored outfits make a statement that sets the tone for their live shows. While their latest album Move Every Muscle, Make Every Sound is full of feel-good gems, (mixing smooth grooves, disco style beats and upbeat lyrics) seeing them perform the songs live brings their bright melodies to full bloom.
The whole costume thing might seem gimmicky at first, but it definitely does its job of making you take a second look. The first time I saw the band play (at SXSW last year), I was actually planning to see another band. But as De Novo Dahl began to set up on a side stage, I just had to stick around and see what they were all about.
Naturally, they ended up being one of my favorite bands at the showcase.
Not only were they extremely fun to watch, but their songs were full of fantastic hooks, big choruses and lots of hand claps. It was one of those engaging sets that puts a silly grin on your face and just puts you in a great mood. But what I appreciated most was that they looked like they were having a fantastic time, and their goal for the set seemed to be making sure the audience was too. How refreshing to actually hear great tunes and be entertained! The songs stuck in my mind for several days, even while I continued to check out a plethora of bands that were hard to tell apart.
Their first official album, called Cats & Kittens and released on indie label Theory 8 in 2005, was actually a double disc with the first being straight forward indie-pop, and the second an album of remixes of the songs on the first. The two disc set allowed the band to showcase their range of styles, and it left the door wide-open for them to experiment with their sound, a la The Flaming Lips (whom they have been compared to). I don’t necessarily agree with that comparison musically – De Novo Dahl’s music is much tighter and straight forward. However, the creative flair of both bands is clear, and the way they go about writing and building their songs is definitely similar. The songs start out with an idea, and then those ideas are built upon. Then they are undressed and then reinterpreted. While many fans are disappointed when a band they dig changes up their style, I would almost be disappointed with this band if they didn’t. Their gift for writing catchy tunes shines no matter what genre a particular song belongs to