Dome Dwellers' "Avant Garage" Helps Keep Rock Music Alive in Denton

In 2015, you'd think that it's all been done before in rock 'n' roll. And, yeah, it probably has. An over-crowded music landscape of sub-genres and variations can make one claustrophobic. Yet, Denton's Dome Dwellers can give you room to breathe. They're a rock 'n' roll band with a confident flair, a reaffirmation that the genre never died; it's just evolved.

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Each member of the group has the capacity for an earful of musical savvy with Cullen Dean on bass, David Gore on drums and Michael Slack on lead guitar and vocals. What's more is that their drive to explore their music shows off an undeniably positive talent. They really make a great team.

When asked to describe their music, it's difficult for the band to pin-point just where they fit on the rock spectrum. Slack says they've been called an electronic guitar band because of their heavy effects, angular guitar riffs, intricate vocal melodies, jazz-influenced drums and a driving bouncy bass. It's a real melange of poly-sonic instrumentation comparable to the math rock of Maps and Atlases or Hella and perhaps a hint of the punk rock Minutemen. "It's hard because it's our music that we don't really know how people perceive when listening," Dean says.

The band's influences are all over the place. Their sound is rooted in psychedelic, jazz, hardcore, math, classic and indie rock. Slack tries to break it down into two words, "avant garage," but says that's more of a joke. It could be "out there stuff that definitely tie with a pop sensibility" or "a combination between conventional and weird music." Whichever way it goes, Dome Dwellers are a band that fits outside of the typical mold.

They started in 2012. Back then, Dean and Slack both played in bands on the Denton beat after which there was a time when Slack didn't have anything going on was writing some songs. He heard through a mutual friend that Dean wanted to start a band. Slack says it was just a two-piece for a while and after searching a few months for a drummer, they recruited Gore. Over the past few years they've been actively playing shows to receptive audiences, even if they may have been getting less credit than they deserve.

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Dome Dwellers are not slackers. No pun intended, Slack writes most of the songs but also says their best work is written collaboratively. They're currently in the process of producing new material but their 2013 album Maybe I Should Have Some Pride is a roller coaster of musical intricacies and never a bore. Each song is a full composition of varied textures and rhythms that shift from one flavor of rock 'n' roll to another.

Gore said the album's name comes from the album's last song, "My Halo," and is a statement to remind themselves to be proud of what they do. "My favorite thing to play is 'Say It Ain't So', mostly because I selfishly inserted a drum solo in the middle of it," he jokes about one the songs that he and Slack both enjoy playing.

The album's first number, "Lie Down", changes moods from a hopping, soothing realm of sound with beautiful vocals and sparkling instrumentation to a gnarled-out chorus of raunchy low-notes to accompany vocalist Slack's lyrical blues. "Bellied Up" is another good one, starting out as an auric surf-jam that goes to a fast-paced march towards a colorful intermingling of Dean's bass and Gore's drums with Slack's awesome use of guitar effects. At times it's heavy, at other times it's mellow.

"Song Of Self-Assurance" defines the band's ethos. Slack said it came to him at a moment when he questioned his musical quest, then realized that it was exactly what he wanted to be doing with his life. It all ties in to the affirmative spirit of the band. "I think that I experience so much negativity around people's mentality of what they're going to do with their music," he said. "It's not really telling the world so much as it is telling ourselves that this is something we can do. Almost kind of a coming of age sort of thing," he says.

A personal favorite track on the album is "Carnivores" which really shows off Slack's vocal talent along to the band's trademark style of composition that amounts to simply enjoyable music. Not too polished nor too rough, this is the kind of music that's perfect to play to friends in a new music show-off session and where you're proud to say you listened to that band before they were big.

Clocking in at under 45 minutes, the album takes you on a psyched-out harmonic journey of hypnotizing guitar-driven tunes. Overall, it's a great album from start to finish. Slack says the songs are indicative of where the band is going for its next release to be out in the spring along with a slew of new material. Then they're working towards hitting the road and seeing where it takes them.

Dome Dwellers' next show is this Saturday at Dan's Silverleaf with Pearl Earl and Heavy Boots. It's a fundraiser for Kyndall Ramsey, a North Texas local and former roommate of the band who was recently in a car-bicycle accident that left her in intensive care on December 30. The proceeds go to helping improve Ramsey's recovery. For more, check out the event page here.


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