So Many Dynamos
The Mill – August 6 at 9:00 p.m. ($8)
When thinking of the nebulous indie-pop scene that spanned much of the ’00s, three things come to mind: Piercing tenors, square-rimmed glasses and countless young emo and indie-pop groups that utterly disappeared before getting a chance to bridge that awkward gap between adolescence and adulthood.
Then there are So Many Dynamos, who didn’t go away, who kept making music. The St. Louis pop group has been performing for over a decade with over a thousand shows under their belt.
Their early recordings are the catchy, sometimes spastic sort of geek pop you’d expect from a decade ago. There’s a lot of energy, mostly channeled into a fretboard, that occasionally spirals off into something a bit bolder, creatively. If that sounds dismissive, it’s only because I’ve spent much of the last week listening to the group’s first studio release since 2009, a self-titled EP featuring three tracks from their upcoming album Safe with Sound.
Seconds into the EP’s first track, it’s obvious the intervening years have had a drastic impact on the group’s songwriting process. The instrumentation is rich, building upon melodies that sound — for the first time — as if they were written with the whole stage in mind. For a group that has been around for over a decade, it’s almost revelatory. It’s hard to go back.
According to drummer Clayton “Norm” Kunstel, this shift in song structure is largely the result of the band’s decision to put down the guitars, ableit temporarily.
“We’ve written a lot on guitars in the past, and this record was mostly written very specifically on an old Yamaha keyboard,” Kunstel said. “It looks like a child’s toy, but it does a whole lot. It kind of came from there I guess.”
Kunstel stressed the importance of writing implementation, noting how the means in which a group writes its music can drastically affect the outcome. “It was different for us, as opposed to, ‘The guitarist comes in with a bunch of chords, and we go from there,'” he said. “You really hear the difference.”
So Many Dynamos are no strangers to shakeups. Since their release of The Loud Wars in 2009, the group saw the amicable departure of founding member Ryan Wasoba guitarist Griffin Kay, replaced by Nathan Bernaix and Travis Lewis, respectively.
More recently, the group has been experimenting with larger stage ensembles that include backup singers, horn sections and extra percussionists. Kunstel says the group often “stumbles upon a sound or a blend of sounds” that inspires a melody or vibe through virtue of this experimentation. “There’s never really a formula to writing music. It’s always somewhat in the moment.”
“I think in the past, we’ve written some music a little bit faster than we maybe wanted to,” he added. “With this record … I think we’re all really excited for people to hear it and kind of understand what we’re doing and who we are a little more.”
So Many Dynamos play at The Mill tonight at 9:00 p.m. Admission is $8.