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Months ago, a friend leaned over to me at a club to say that if someone had predicted years ago that today she'd be watching (and, more important, loving) a band with keyboards, the suggestion would have been met with either violence or laughter, depending on her mood and that person's relationship to her. She was a dyed-in-the-wool punk fan who thought keyboards were for aging '80s hair bands and those wussy new-wavers. She could have been praising any of several local bands that feature keyboards these days--The Adventures of Jet, Chomsky, The Deathray Davies, Centro-matic, The Dooms U.K.--but this was her first time to see [DARYL], the youngest and one of the most keys-centric of the bunch.
But [DARYL]--which takes its name from the 1985 Disney film, D.A.R.Y.L., about a 10-year-old boy with a microchip for a brain who develops emotions and preferences when something in his computer noggin malfunctions--doesn't linger in the new-wave rehash. The Moogs and synths are just cogs in a fine-tuned machine that pumps out rock that hooks like pop but hits like punk. [DARYL]'s one of those rare bands born old, with timing that can take other bands years to develop. Though singer-guitarist-keyboardist Dylan Silvers and bassist Jeff Parker played together in Post From Vermont, drummer Spammie and guitars and keys player Dave Wilson didn't join until October, which is also when they recorded a four-track demo and played their first show. (Kid Chaos' Chad Ferman added his keyboards to the band in April.) During a winter tour through the midwest with The Paper Chase, they signed to Midwest indie label Urinine Records, which released the band's debut, Communication: Duration, last month.
It's obvious to compare [DARYL] to the Rentals, one of the few modern bands to weld keyboards onto a full-on rock band. Of course, that's not completely accurate; the differences lie in the background. The members of the Rentals come from the pop and poppier bands Weezer and That Dog, while [DARYL]'s come from punk and indie-rock backgrounds. (Silvers has also done time with the Strafers, the Fitz, Mess, and now, The Deathray Davies.) Rentals frontman Matt Sharp might be able to write songs like the ones on Communication: Duration if he stopped searching for answers in Spain or another galaxy; Silvers' lyrics hit from experience in the here and now. His voice is both familiar and unplaceable, walking the thin line between speaking, singing, and screaming. There's a rise here, a drop there, but never it falls into monotony or forced emotion. The band is tight and in tune: The four musicians (Communication: Duration was completed before Ferman joined) sound like a single instrument. New wave has never sounded so progressive.