So Many Dynamos: When I Explode

So Many Dynamos: When I Explode (Skrocki Records)

In May 2005, St. Louis area natives So Many Dynamos went all in. They left behind school and work, turned away for a bit from the world of rent-paying and steady living in favor of life in a van, and embarked on an ambitious tour of the continental U.S.—that’s right, all 48. Of course, they hit all the obligatory big cities, but they also took their bombshell of a show off the beaten path to oft-overlooked towns like Fargo and Cheyenne.

Take that energy, combine it with a pinch of attitude, and you’ve got dynamite, the kind of explosiveness peppered throughout their major label debut When I Explode. In a recent interview with a college newspaper, guitarist Ryan Wasoba let a bit of that attitude shine through. Asked about the prospect of seeking out a major-label deal, Wasoba astutely articulated the band’s contentedness with their current setup at Seattle’s fledgling Skrocki Records. He said they have no interest in relinquishing control and putting themselves into any position where they would be, “for lack of a better term, the bitch.”

And that’s not just a copout for some brash young band that couldn’t land a deal if they tried. From the opening whistle blow of the first track “Bed of Nails,” the energy and ability of the group belies not only their youth but the four-day rush the album was recorded in. With dual jagged guitars, frenzied notes pounded out on the keys, rapid-fire drumming, and delicate melodies threaded seamlessly throughout, it’s hard to imagine the intensity of their live shows being any higher.

And the Dynamos’ vocals can’t be written off as easily as so many others who make liberal use of that nasal whine. Not the regurgitated themes of heartache and teen angst, they opt instead for darker, sometimes abstract imagery like apartment buildings burning to the ground and offbeat allusions to prayer and suicide. On one of the album’s gems, “Heat/Humidity,” driving keyboards and crashing cymbals lay the foundation for imaginatively morbid lyrics like: “Sunday morning the carbon monoxide/Tells me that we should go for a ride/In hindsight the whole thing seems so bizarre/God, you make a lot of noise in the trunk of my car.”

Comparisons abound to predecessors like Hot Hot Heat and The Dismemberment Plan, and the influence is certainly there; Jason Caddell of The D-Plan even mixed the album. But on When I Explode, So Many Dynamos are a band on their own, a band who’ve made good use of what they’ve learned and put their own stamp on it.

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