Lunchin’ with The Dendrites

If you were wondering if anyone plays solid ska in Denver, Colorado, I assure you they do. There's at least one ensemble, which for the second decade makes sure that fans in need of such sounds have their local crew on whose gig they can always count. "Lunchin' with The Dendrites" is their latest EP, which quite stirred up my perception of the band.

Continue reading ▾

The Dendrites on stage
photo: Lateralus Photography

I’ve been tracking The Dendrites’ activities since 2009, when they released their debut record “Mountain Standard Time” on Megalith Records. In those times it was a big discovery for me and inspired me to search further for unknown bands from far away. Their solid ska-jazz played in very characteristic style strongly influenced my reception of fully instrumental music. Since then guys recorded another EP and two albums including excellent “Damn Right” released by Jump Up Records three years ago, which only confirmed my splendid opinion about this band. But let’s see how their latest child fits into this set.

Lunchin’ with The Dendrites

Before I get into details of what’s unique about this EP, I should probably clarify the title. It’s not about having a midday snack with the band. Lunchin’ relates to all the band’s experiments with sound that haven’t found their place on previous releases. Of course, it doesn’t mean that Dendrites suddenly cut off their roots and started playing something completely different. Ska-jazz and traditional ska are still the foundations. This rhythm despite all the combinations around has the decisive role here.

Already “Snap Patch” which opens this record suggests that something is different here. Soul, some funk, and very surprising association with Hot 8 Brass Band and their version of Sexual Healing (it’s quite possible I got carried away). Of course, there are only three horns here, but I think this comparison is quite an adequate compliment for guys playing on trombone, trumpet, and sax.

“No Money No Sunshine” is another surprise – a wonderful vocal, slower tempo. Romantic but not necessarily super-optimistic lyrics with trombone’s main theme… this tune could easily become a radio hit.

The next one is “Dujak”, clearly an effect of many hours of binge-watching 70s crime TV series. Dujak might not be Kojak, but if a TV production with such a soundtrack got some airtime on one of VOD platforms I’d be happy to watch it.

“Xasji” is a ska-jazz full of Mexican motives. As authors themselves describe it, you should be prepared for a desert expedition into the land of cacti, lizards, bandits, and red dust. This depiction is very adequate. I wrote about it more than 10 years ago in my review of “Mountain Standard Time” (sorry, in Polish only) – The Dendrites as not many others can describe very specific pictures and situations without words, only with music. I’m happy to say it’s still accurate.

The most atmospheric and perhaps a little dark number on this EP is “Bottom Feeder”. Surfing guitar and ingenious keys on the foreground make the strength of this dubbing tune.

The record ends by incredibly energetic “Don’t Wanna Go”, which to me is a total emanation of New Orleans style. Choral singing, plenty of horns, and sad lyrics (despite the song’s general mood) about destroyed planet, which we need to evacuate in a hurry. The phrase “Beam me up Scotty, I don’t wanna leave” sounds quite funny, when I hear it while watching astronauts leaving the deck of Crew Dragon DM-2 after their flight to International Space Station has been cancelled.

6 songs very different stylistically, yet connected by some vague, characteristic Dendrites’ sound really did the job here. These guys are comfortable in all those genre explorations and can extract all the best of currently researched areas. I am in awe and I classify this lunchin’ experiment as absolutely successful. You should necessarily check its quality for yourselves. The EP is available on Dendrites’ Bandcamp in digital and on CD.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *