It’s a lazy weeknight and the windows at Whitehall Exchange in the Bishop Arts district are open. A group of three young musicians sit around a table sipping on whiskey and water talking about the journey of their first full-length record and their impossibly cool sound. These musicians comprise part of the local band Dovetail and their new album Mount Karma has grabbed the attention of the Local Edge and the adoring public alike.
A week preceding their CD release party at the Granada last month Dovetail had several promotional contests on their Facebook. The day before the show I entered on a whim and actually won. I’ve never won anything and was beyond stoked. Having only heard a few songs from their previous EP I knew them more by reputation and association than anything but I was excited to see what they had to offer live as well as on record.
Dovetail’s live performance is a dynamic cocktail of classic and contemporary touches such as impeccable three and four part harmonies, vintage clothing and obscure John Lennon covers. Normally I’d consider this a recipe for certain failure brought on by unbelievable arrogance. But the undertaking of reinterpreting the angsty masterwork of a former Beatle was done so humbly I found myself caught up in the excruciating honesty of “Mother” and actually choked up as they followed this with “Can’t Feel You,” a melancholy original about giving up the ghost in welcome worn romance. Their solid rhythmic core leaves ample room for emphasis to be placed on Daniel Creamer’s keys and Philip Creamer’s vocals, reminiscent though certainly not derivative of the great Freddy Mercury. The melodic structure of the vocals and Tucker Cauble’s spacey guitar riffs give a transcendent quality to their tunes that is neither contrived nor pretentious.
Two years in the making, Mount Karma tells a story not through the linear progression of a concept album but rather like an exhibit in impressionism where collectively the songs create vignettes or scenes that can be strung together and take on a new meaning. Songs like the breathtakingly definitive “Speak” and searing archetypal single “Julie” stand solidly in the position of major events without giving concrete detail. The title track, “Mount Karma” is placed last on the album describing a journey of unintentional self-discovery. “It’s all about growth – our growth,” says vocal and keys co-writer Daniel Creamer. Lead vocalist and brother Philip backs that statement up, “We’re pursuing knowledge of what life is for us. We’re in heavy pursuit of what our purpose is.” He continues, “People feel like they’re creating their own reality, well, is that right or is that wrong? We got to the top of that idea and saw it from a different perspective, that’s Mount Karma.”
Initially Mount Karma was scheduled to be recorded in 14 days by engineer and producer Beau Bedford in early 2010 but as the band’s sound developed and the concept grew things were re-recorded and new tracks were added. “Beau is a staple in our music. He brings out the best in all of us.” Daniel says in reference to the producer who also took the stage with the band last month at the Granada for their CD release party. As is typical of Bedford’s work, the sound from the record is the same sound one gets in the live performance and vice versa, a signature he seems to be establishing for himself and the artists lucky enough to work with him.
In our conversation at Whitehall Exchange it becomes increasingly apparent that the emphasis in their endeavor is solidly on the music. They list such icons as George Harrison, Bob Marley, The Beach Boys and Queen as their influences and drawing inspiration from local acts such as Quaker City Night Hawks, Kirby Brown and Weekend Hustler. The plan for now is to continue performing together and working and writing with Beau Bedford.
Mount Karma is available on iTunes. If you’re interested in seeing Dovetail live check them out on Facebook and Twitter.