The folks who run the recording studio at Daytrotter have turned their small digs into one of the most beloved and inspiring projects in all of indie-dom. How it works: a touring band will stop over at the studio in Rock Island, Illinois and record a handful of songs live to tape. Next, the session, with no overdubs or corrections, is posted to Daytrotter.com for all to download. It’s a simple formula, and one that has proven wonderfully expansive because you could spend a month perusing the archives and never get bored.
Now, Daytrotter’s venturing into more traditional record-making with Keegan DeWitt’s Nothing Shows EP, the first original work released solely through Daytrotter Records. DeWitt’s music is expansive and enthusiastic, and as such, is a perfect fit for the imprint. DeWitt is a strong frontman backed by a delightfully eclectic, ramshackle band. He has roots in the film world, having scored and acted in numerous indie flicks, and on record, he is equally cinematic, crafting pop songs heavy on mood and dynamism. Nothing Shows is anchored by slow, folk-inspired numbers like “More of You”, “They Ain’t the Same” and “Michael Bizot”. Built around DeWitt’s finger-picked acoustic guitar and strong, even voice that’s strangely reminiscent of a young Randy Newman, these songs are pleasant enough, but it’s DeWitt’s charm showing through that makes up for thin lyrics like, “I feel so lost and lonely / don’t want no one to know me”. Crucially, he peppers these tracks with tasteful touches of strings and piano, livening them up in just the right way.
He’s at his best, however, when he speeds up the tempo and lets his band shine. “Say La La” rolls along at a danceable pace, driven by a chorus of voices imploring listeners to follow the song’s titular instructions. “Nothing Shows” starts off as another slowburner, but DeWitt wisely lets a simple drumbeat enter into the mix, and soon the piano’s bouncing off of that rhythm to blissful effect. Closer “Hearts Beat Loud” is the album’s easy standout. A sampled keyboard riff, anathema to the folksy instrumentation on the rest of the record, is somehow fitting here and it gets the blood moving quickly from beneath clattering percussion. Some strutting disco guitars kick things up even higher, and the song clips toward its ending all too soon. DeWitt’s a talented songwriter, and with Nothing Shows he certainly seems worthy of the credibility conferred by the Daytrotter brand.
- Multiple songs Daytrotter.com