Music

dios: self-titled

Cesar Diaz

Dios

dios

Label: StarTime International
US Release Date: 2004-03-23
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Here are a few interesting things you need to know about the Southern California band, dios. The band -- with the exception of Venezuelan-American Jackie Monzon -- are second-generation Mexican-American. Brothers Joel (vocalist) and Kevin Morales (guitarist) are sons of a well-known Mexican Mariachi singer. The rest of the band, Monzon, keyboardist Jimmy Cabez De Vaca, and bassist J.P. Caballero, are all old chums born and raised in their hometown of Hawthorne, California. Yes, Hawthorne, home of pop legend Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys.

The band have a passion for the Beach Boys, and it was evident on their EP Los Arboles, released earlier this year. The impressive five-track EP was a collection of Beach Boys-inspired, moody indie pop songs with an added sense of humor that has become the band's trademark. Their debut full-length album, dios, is hardly mere extension of the sound found on their EP. dios is brilliantly produced by Caballero, who manages to maintain the band's indie pop core sound intact, but guides the band through the styles and tones reminiscent of their heroes.

Naysayers may think it's better to be original than to hark back and capture the sounds that made milestone artists great. But artists such as Matthew Sweet, the Flaming Lips, the Soundtrack of Our Lives, and most recently the Thorns (Sweet's latest band) and the Polyphonic Spree have done so with acclaim. They pull it off because these artists stay away from merely copy-and-pasting retro elements, instead adapting the sounds to their own songwriting and production talents. Like these artists, dios' debut incorporates but doesn't recycle these brilliant sounds of pop gods.

The result is a strong debut effort from a band that -- get this -- have only been playing together for a little over year and half. Is this band for real? Joel Morales told NME in January that the band's aim was to be timeless. They were doing things on their terms and it seemed to be working. Can they pull grandeur with the ease of the Polyphonic Spree? One listen to either their self-titled debut or Los Arboles and doubters will change their tune.

The album's gloomy opener, "Nobody's Perfect", is a break-up song that begins with an emo pop tone that flows upon an epic electronic loop. Thanks to Caballero's production, the melancholia in the lyrics ("I can't be what's wrong with you / You can't hold me / I am gone / It's my fault I stayed so long with you") isn't remotely pretentious. Joel Morales' vocals reaches the sincerity found in Ben Gibbard's vocals on the Postal Service's "The District Sleeps Alone".

"Starting Five" is a Beatlesque song with lively drums, a strumming chord, and melodic yoo-hoos. The wispy vocals, electronic loops, and atmospheric keyboards on "The Uncertainty" recall the Flaming Lips. But it's the gorgeous keyboard opening on "All Is Said and Done", originally found on their Los Arboles EP, that becomes the immediate stand out on dios. Caballero's keen attention to production on this track is exemplary.

"You'll Get Yours" is another gorgeous chamber pop gem, right down to the background claps and the jangling percussions and striking keyboards. Joel Morales' rich vocals tends to tap into Richard Ashcroft's territory on "All Is Said and Done" and "You'll Get Yours". And, once again, Caballero's production comes to the rescue with the country-twang "Birds", which showcases yet more of the band's musical range.

On "Birds", "Just Another Girl", and "You Make Me Feel", the band follows the mellow guitar pop established by Neil Young (yet another one of dios' major influences), the Byrds, and, in the '90s, Matthew Sweet. On "Meeting People", guitars swirl with a striking insistence. It bears the same elements that made Matthew Sweet's classic Girlfriend, so remarkable. And just as remarkable is dios' debut.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.