SUNDAY MORNING SUBLIME : The Dø

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Another band who I’ve been playing non-stop recently and another great signing to the Six Degrees label, The Dø.

“On My Shoulders” is a great album with tinges of indie rock, country twang, acoustic loveliness and feel good English pop playfulness with  a pervading sense of melancholia, just the way I love it.

The vocalist Olivia just has this incredible and unique and sweet voice and I could listen to her forever and a day, she’s just so addictive :-)

So many great tracks that it’s hard to choose a standout cause most of them do something for me in different ways.

This is just TOP TOP QUALITY dreamy pop music and an essential to your collection!

Grab a free track & remix, read all the official info and then watch a vid!

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The Dø didn’t set out to make music history – but it happened anyway.  The Franco-Finnish duo with the odd name (pronounced “dough,” by the way) released its debut album, A Mouthful, in France in 2008, and the record soared to the top of the charts.  This made The dø the first French act to ever hit the #1 spot with an album sung in English.  The decision to write those songs in English wasn’t a great career move – France is notoriously protective of its mother tongue, and French acts that don’t sing in French are restricted in the amount of radio play and exposure they can get.   But The Dø’s music proved to be irresistible.  Now, America is about to learn why.

The Dø has conjured up an unlikely blend of indie rock, folk, dance, and mid-20th century pop.  Not eclectic enough?  How about Finnish folk, dark techno, or a sly bit of rap?  They’re all here too, and all bound together by an audible sense of wonder and whimsy that is already creating a stir Stateside.  Taste-making website Pitchfork proclaimed the album “as ambitious and fun as any coming out party in recent memory.”

Singer Olivia Merilahti and instrumentalist Dan Levi first met while scoring an otherwise undistinguished film, and began writing songs together in 2004.  Their career followed a trajectory familiar to indie bands from Silverlake to Williamsburgh to London: a few early nibbles on a MySpace page, some rough’n’ready gigs where Olivia learned to play guitar, and then a TV commercial.  The band’s debut single, “On My Shoulders,” was tabbed by an English stationery company for an ad campaign, and the rest is, as they say, music history.  After selling 150,000 units, A Mouthful topped the French charts, and the group’s MySpace page is currently nearing the 5-million-hit mark.  The duo’s live performances have become the stuff of legend.  And it seems to be just a matter of time before The Dø’s impossibly catchy but emotionally subtle tunes turn up on American television.

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On My Shoulders” provoked comparisons to The Cardigans and Björk – perhaps inevitable when an elfin, Scandinavian woman is fronting a band.  But a better comparison might be with Phoenix, another French band with a knack for relentlessly likable songs.  “On My Shoulders” marries some clever wordplay to a sturdy indie rock beat, with unexpected touches of sinuous electric guitar and occasional swelling strings.   This, as it turns out, is a big part of The Dø’s appeal: they are musically unpredictable and their recording covers a surprising amount of ground.  The album’s opener, “Playground Hustle,” begins with a children’s chorus and what sounds like a fife-and-drum corps – or it could also be a Brazilian samba school.  “We are not afraid of you grownups,” chant the kids, while programmed sounds and, eventually, Olivia’s voice join in.  The whole thing builds to a big, rocking climax.

At Last” also sports one of Dan’s deft arrangements.  Built on a guitar riff that sounds like something from the Sticky Fingers-era Stones, “At Last” also features little touches of harmonica, a wordless chorus, and piano.  Then there’s “Tammie,” a piece of timeless pop that refuses to be pinned down – the sun-kissed, Brazilian-inflected 60s?  the “unplugged” rock of the 90s?  the irony of the 00s?  They may all be a part of the mix.  Even more unlikely is the song “Aha,” where angular, rhythmic verses slide into a cool, alluring chorus.  It’s as if Dan and Olivia had mashed up The Prodigy’s hardcore techno with the smooth lyricism of The Walker Brothers (or any other 60s band that dressed in matching suits).

But there is a darker side to The Dø as well: “The Bridge Is Broken” starts innocently enough, but builds to a wall of ominous guitars and distorted vocals.  Even more unsettling is “Searching Gold,” where a moody, downtempo groove supports Olivia’s softly sung, eerie tale of dislocation and loss.  Edgy psychedelia gives “Travel Light” a certain frisson, and the nearly-instrumental track “In My Box” offers an arresting combination of slowcore drums, menacing synth drones, and distorted wails.

The album’s roots in UK and US pop and rock are obvious, but in “Unissasi Laulelet,” Olivia offers a nod to her own Finnish heritage.  Multitracked voices and simple percussion give the piece a folky sound that’s reminiscent of the Finnish folk/rock band Värttinä.   A somewhat older US/UK style colors “Stay (Just Little Bit More),” a song that sounds like one of those old music hall tunes that inspired the Beatles.  But the oom-pah bass and girly chorus are undercut by telltale bits of electric guitar, percussion, and occasional lyrics that say “you’re not in the 40s anymore.”  The Dø reference the more recent musical past on the hip-hop track “Queen Dot Kong,” a cheeky bit of humor that reminds us of the days when Eminem was still funny.

The American release of A Mouthful will also feature three bonus tracks: one is “On My Shoulders (Chamber Version).”  This is not a remix but a complete reinvention of their hit single.  The melody is strikingly different – lower and more melancholy; and true to the subtitle, it is a largely acoustic version that only later on builds to a darker, more processed sound, only to quickly subside again.  A “chamber version” of “Unissasi Laulelet” is also acoustic, with only a single vocal line and a choir of muted horns.   But “Playground Hustle & Bustle” goes the opposite route, as The Dø offer an extended rave up that puts the opening children’s chorus in a whole different context.

As catchy as their songs are, it’s the duo’s restless creativity and refusal to do the expected that suggest we’ll be hearing a lot more of The Dø.

The Do – On my shoulders from THE DO on Vimeo.

1 comment

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