Carrier, the Dodos’ fifth album, is both a reckoning and fresh start. Singer-songwriter Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber have primarily functioned as a duo since 2005, but for an all-too-brief moment the Dodos were a trio. It’s in this vibrant, sorrowful, powerfully spare new album that we’re afforded a glimpse of what that could have/should have looked like.
After acting as the band’s touring guitarist in 2011, Calgary-based musician Chris Reimer (Women) was invited to become the third member of the Dodos. On Feb. 21, 2012, Reimer, who was just 26, died in his sleep. Carrier is both a celebration and tribute to Reimer’s life and his musical influence, as well as the sound of a band finding its way out of the darkness. Our full interview with Meric Long will be published on Thursday.
We’re streaming Carrier for our Canadian audience a week before its release via Dine Alone Records. The album is available for pre-order on iTunes.
“We started recording these songs in January 2012 with the intention of spending a couple of months demoing all of our material in preparation for a full length studio album. Our drummer, Chris Reimer, had brought over his beloved 4trk cassette deck, small mixer, and collection of microphones and we spent some days and nights together playing with gear. On February 21, 2012 Chris passed away unexpectedly in his sleep of a previously undiagnosed heart condition. This EP is an archive of the four songs we had completed with Chris on the drums and the console, and is dedicated with so much love to him and the inspiration he filled us with.”
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Following the dissolution of Women and prior to his tragic death in 2012, guitarist Christopher Reimer quietly joined Dodos– which seemed like an odd, if not impossible, fit. Dodos were a known quantity as an acoustic-and-drums (and loops) two-piece, proving effusive, melodic and spirited in a live setting. Conversely, Women’s turbulent post-punk hovered like a cloud bearing acid rain, as Reimer would often stand completely motionless on stage.
Frontman Meric Long claims that Reimer was a huge influence on Dodos’ new LP, Carrier, and lead single “Confidence” is proof enough. Rather than Long’s typical brassy, open-tuned acoustics, “Confidence” is built on the kind of small, wiry guitar curlicues Reimer would lend to Women’s output. It’s still every bit a Dodos song in the ways that matter the most, though; the melodies are warm and pleasantly rumpled, drummer Logan Kroeber forgoes mundane timekeeping to push and prod Long and in the second half, the two ditch the relative minimalism to hurtle through a breakneck jam of harmonized guitar leads that can be heard as a tribute to a man whose short time with Dodos truly moved them.
I am looking forward to seeing and hearing Meric and Logan at Sled Island next week, though it will be bittersweet for me. Chris asked me to come to Sled with him the first couple of years of the festival; I never did. Thought I was too busy at work and thought I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. This year I’ve bought a Festival Discovery Plus Pass. Gonna cram in as much Sled as I can. With/without him.
This was an unexpected gem if ever there was one. From the netherest reaches of our Western boundary–fair Victoria–comes this euphonic patchwork of an album, earnestly quilting together an honest structure from what sounds like different albums of roughly the same genre: a mix tape from a cool older brother who never existed. Like a patchwork quilt, however, the self-titled Freak Heat Waves exists as a single entity, a document that varies from song to song just enough to be deliciously different from itself, but not so much that it doesn’t make sense. There is a distinct voice here–even in the instrumental tracks–that hearkens to everything good about this side of the musical coin they’re mining: noise, post-punk, shoegaze and beyond. The single word song titles bring to mind Joy Division at their darkest, and when those beautiful, sweeping guitar arpeggios kick in, you can’t help but be reminded of the now legendary Women. Indeed, perhaps it’s the silenced voice of the all-too-late Chris Reimer, in the producer’s chair, that we can hear as the thread stitching the album together. Have a listen and be reminded of yourself.
Most recently I wrote a book called I don’t Feel So Good which was published again by BookThug in 2012. It was written as a fundraiser for the Chris Reimer Legacy Fund Society. The brother of my good friend Nikki Reimer passed away in 2012 so this fund is to raise money for a scholarship fund for young artists in Calgary, which is where the Reimer family lives. Chris Reimer was an amazing musician and artist.