What IAMDYNAMITE‘s aesthetic—from the pristine pop and boom of their drums to the vivid pink and blue of their new album cover—will tell you is that they draw heavy inspiration from the ’80s. Most critics will tell you the same thing. And it’s true. But beyond distilling and succinctly executing the golden mean of ’80s new wave, the Michigan-based duo of Chris Martin and Chris Phillips, at their music’s core, draw inspiration from 30 years before.
That is, much of the basic architecture of the ten songs on their new album, Wasa Tusa, comes from the ’50s and the first wave of rock ‘n’ roll. While it might be hard to tease out this architecture amid the synth textures and drum reverb, the clues are there. Your first clue might be all the way near the end of the album’s last song (“Tear the Line”), when a good old rock ‘n’ roll saxophone comes hovering in. Or it might be all the way back at the album’s outset, just after the beginning of the first track (“Be There”), when the ebullient bass bounces in with the Bo Diddley beat. Or it might be the very beginning of that same track, which kicks off—like three-quarters of the album’s songs—with a percussion intro. Because, whether it’s the Bo Diddley beat or any number of other rock ready-mades, this band reasserts the primacy of rhythm in rock ‘n’ roll, just as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and company did 60 years ago.
Of course, it’s no mistake that the ’50s is in IAMDYNAMITE’S DNA, because the ’50s certainly informed the new wave sound of the ’80s, which is, again, this band’s most evident reference point. And why not? From their platonic ideal of reverbed guitar (“Keep it Simple”) to their graceful synth textures (“Feel Real”) to their positively gleaming drums (“My Love”), they’ve mastered their ’80s-influenced sound. Pitting this sound, with its thick yet effervescent lows and mids, against an upper register comprised of Martin’s lilting croon and elegant falsetto, what the band truly achieves is a sound that is wholly new and all their own.
Stream Wasa Tusa in full below and pre-order it here before its release tomorrow. Then, be sure to find the band on tour (dates below).
IAMDYNAMITE Tour Dates
Aug 15 – Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
Aug 18 – The Warehouse – LaCrosse, WI
Aug 19 – Turf Club – St. Paul, MN
Aug 20 – Pop’s – Sauget, IL
Aug 21 – Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
Aug 22 – Marquis Theater – Denver, CO
Aug 23 – Black Sheep – Colorado Springs, CO
Sept 10 – Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
Sept 11 – House of Blues – Myrtle Beach, SC
Sept 12 – 1065 The End’s Weenie Roast – Charlotte, NC
Sept 13 – 95X Big Shindig – Raleigh, NC
Sept 19 – The Studio @ Webster Hall – New York, NY
Sept 20 – Simon’s 677 – Providence, RI
Sept 23 – Stanhope House – Stanhope, NJ
Sept 24 – Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY
Sept 25 – Waiting Room – Buffalo, NY
Sept 26 – Vapor Night Club – Saratoga Springs, NY
Sept 30 – Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s
Oct 1 – Curtain Club – Dallas, TX
Oct 2 – Walter’s – Houston, TX
Oct 6 – The Jam Spot – Albuquerque, NM
Oct 7 – The Rock – Tucson, AZ
Oct 8 – Pub Rock Live – Scottsdale, AZ