REVIEW: Dom - Sun Bronzed Greek Gods

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C- | ASTRALWERKS | 2.15.11 | MOG | AMAZON | INSOUND

You’re sitting on the beach, watching the Wavves crash against the Best Coast you’ve ever seen, and all of a sudden you spot traces of Surfer Blood in the ocean. Finally you pause your iPod and wonder: is the recent revival of the surf-rock genre a fad, or here to stay? And how many bands can jump on the bandwagon before the trend gets stale?

On its first EP, Sun Bronzed Greek Gods, Dom tries to hop on that bandwagon with a mixed bag of some top-notch summer sing-alongs and others just sub-par, all with a gleeful sense of self-awareness that consistently manages to keep the seven-track debut afloat.

Dom certainly distinguishes itself from those aforementioned bands – they’ve got more synths than Surfer Blood, they’re easier to dance to than Wavves, and they rock harder than Best Coast. Unfortunately, lead singer Dominic’s forgettable voice (he won’t reveal his last name) and the band’s repetition of already tired trends of the genre give the EP the disappointing quality of redundancy.

"Living In America" (MP3)

Still, this redundancy is salvaged by quite a few standout tracks on the EP. Blog favorite “Living In America” certainly has the chorus it needs to reach the anthemic status it desires – “it’s so sexy…to be living in America.” It’s danceability also distinguishes it from the aforementioned surf-rockers - this one can definitely be played at a club. More songs like it would help fulfill Dom’s dream to be the “Madonna of garage rock.”

The other tracks that exemplify the best of Dom are those which build the band’s chill, easy-going synths and stomping drums alongside a catchy, memorable chorus. “Bochicha,” a song consisting of only 12 words, achieves that balance with brevity. It’s a sing-along ode to Dom’s cat that demonstrates the best of what surf-rock genre has to offer and the joyful silliness of the band’s simplistic lyrics. The pump-up nature of the song gives justification for the band’s upcoming tour with The Go! Team. “Hunny” also builds its song around a breezy chorus — “Listen here Hunny, breaking my heart ain’t funny” — and it works effortlessly well.

"Burn Bridges" (MP3)

And while the sound mix on “Burn Bridges” has synthesized chords heavily layered on top of the nearly inaudible vocals for the majority of the song, once the chorus hits, the beat drops out and Dom’s voice can finally be fully heard. This works to overwhelmingly positive results, as a sort of low-fi Passion Pit refrain rightfully takes center stage.

Unfortunately, the effortless vibe that helps contribute to Dom’s best tracks comes back to haunt them on their weakest. The songs “Jesus” and “Rude as Jude” chime along and are certainly an easy listen, but they don’t have the catchiness that songs on these types of EPs need to be worthy of multiple replays. “Jude” notably wastes a promising guitar riff, brilliantly reminiscent of John Fogerty’s “Centerfield,” at the song’s opening. Save for the solid chorus, they leave this awesome melody — which could definitely carry a full song — behind for a good portion of the track, which is so chill, it’s not even cool - just boring.

"Rude as Jude"

The lazy, uninspired filler between the energetic, catchy choruses on “Jude” seems to be an indication that Dom should stick with its summer-rock melodies and dump the slow burn, chill-wave ones. Other bands rock this style far better.

Too often the songs on this EP (even the good ones) blend into each other - and not in a good way, sounding overly simple and formulaic — particularly the EP’s final three tracks all seem to plow through with the same drum beat. Through the strong and the weak tracks, however, Dom is able to provide enough cheesy summer-pop bliss with its shimmery cymbal crashes and crunchy guitar chords that Sun Bronzed Greek Gods remains a promising EP. There’s enough good in here to indicate that this new band has the ability to stay relevant in the years to come. Hopefully their self-awareness and catchy hooks will lead to a more polished debut album that can help distinguish Dom from other wannabe surf-rockers - and can help the band make its own songs more distinguishable from each other.