September 9, 2008

CC200: The Dambuilders' "Shrine," A Nationwide Tangent

The Dambuilders -- Encendedor
Melodic bass, crisp snare beats and blasts of guitar and violin. The Dambuilders' "Shrine" has everything (except, as Wikipedia points out, a traditional verse-chorus structure) and the erstwhile Boston-based quartet proves it in its first eight bars. Which is why "Shrine" is #43 in the Clicky Clicky 200. The Dambuilders formed in Hawaii 1989 and broke out in 1994 on the strength of the full-length Encendedor and various strong, contemporaneous singles and compilation appearances. There were quite a few hot numbers on Encendedor (see "Colin's Heroes," "Smell"), but "Shrine" may be the most immediate. The lyric recounts fondly a romance of the Lane Myer/Monique Junet variety, wherein indie rock provides the common ground for the couple. The real grabber of the number, even more so than the exceedingly hooky melody, is the big dynamic changes, particularly that first crushing wall of guitar and violin. There is a very nice bridge section accentuated by pizzicato violin and then fuzz bass. And then the song closes down neatly, making you wish it was at least twice as long. That's "Shrine." It's #43 on The Clicky Clicky 200; read other CC200 posts right here.

It is notable that long before indie luminary Sufjan Stevens release the state-themed albums Greetings From Michigan and Illinois, The Dambuilders launched an effort to write a song for each of the American states (including the stellar "Colorado" and the zesty instrumental "Montana"). We do not know whether the band ever completed all 50 tunes, but we do know that 15 made their way to CD on the 1996 Australian release God Dambuilders Bless America, which we'd love to track down (and which we are surprised to find recently referenced at The Phoenix). What is a shame is that Encendedor is not available at EMusic or ITunes; the latter digital music storefront does have the subsequent albums Ruby Red and Against The Stars, which were released on East/West after The Dambuilders were scooped up by the major label system. Of the Dambuilders alumni, violinist Joan Wasserman has the most prominent profile currently, as her Joan As Policewoman musical project has been well-received. Bassist and singer Dave Derby has charted a solo career under his own named and the moniker Brilliantine, and we enjoyed his 2003 set Even Further Behind. Mr. Derby's latest project, Gramercy Arms, features Dambuilders drummer Kevin March and former Luna guitarist Sean Eden.

The Dambuilders -- "Shrine" -- Encendedor
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Anonymous said...

You know, given it's #43 and all, H-Dawg wants to know how its inclusion on his Bus of Rock mix docked it so many points from the Clicky Clicky scorecard . . .

Unknown said...

I suspect the inclusion in yr CD is unrelated. 43 is a pretty good showing. It means I've listened to the song 40 times in the last five years. The number one song has 65 plays.