Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is The Dorothy Heralds.
Concocting their ingredient-rich potion of electronic-laced prog pop since 2001, The Dorothy Heralds are closing out this year by dropping their second album, 100 Unnamed Things. The release will showcase the latest work by the band, who are known for collaboration in writing music for recording as they are for weaving their rhythm 'n' melodies on stage. They're good listening either way.
A bio and brief history of the band follows below:
Eclectic Rock? Progressive Art Rock? Electronica-Induced Power Pop? Attempts to categorize Madison-based The Dorothy Heralds seem intriguing at best. For, if you've seen this ensemble live, you know that the experience is one that defies conventional expectation. The Dorothy Heralds mesh Matt Nelson's quirky, experimental electric guitar parts with Kevin Lozada's keyboard lines that stretch anywhere from ambient and subtle to intensely melodic and driving. Put these parts on top of the pounce-like, athletic bass leanings of Gary Chin, and an intricate instrumental bed unfolds. Vocalist Katy Rykken rounds out the sound with her rich mezzo-soprano voice that flows easily from airy and ethereal to brassy and bold. Each with a diverse array of influences and experiences, members of The Dorothy Heralds come together to create lilting melodies that thread together their unique package of sound.
Gary Chin is responsible for the Dorothy brainchild, vowing in 1999 to start a project all his own -- one over which he had creative license and the arena to experiment and make new. He sold his vision to long-time friend Kevin Lozada, and the two set out to form a band. The pair ran across Katy Rykken, an eager, bright-eyed UW sophomore, and after an audition, she was on board. After several line-up changes over the course of 2 years, the band found their niche with guitarist Matt Nelson, whose creative approach to guitar playing was the final touch the band needed.
The band's first full-length album, Projections, was recorded at DNA Studios in Madison in 2003. For this album, the band practiced genre-jumping, covering everything from progressive rock to funk to noise to ambient folk. Since that time, the band has focused its sound, moving in the vein of Massive Attack meets Zero 7. Throw in a splash of Bjork, a touch of Peter Gabriel, and a hint of Blondie, and you have The Dorothy Heralds. In the mix is also a touch of world music -- Latin beats mixed intricately with drum and bass. Working on their sophomore album, the band continues to develop and hone their sound, skills, and fanbase, playing out as often as possible and supporting the local music scene along the way.
There's much more information in the full biographies of each band member: Katy Rykken on lead vocals, Gary Chin on the bass and electric upright bass, Kevin Lozada on keyboards and laptop, Matt Nelson on the guitar, banjo, mandolin and laptop, along withTim Russell on drums and other percussion.
The Heralds are part of an outbreak of Madison-based bands releasing new albums through the end of this year and into the early months of 2007. The band started recording anew at DNA Studios back in June, which was co-produced by Mark Whitcomb. The album was largely complete by early October, and went to press at the end of that month. Guitarist Matt Nelson was enthusiastic about the completion of the process, writing, "the CD is a really good representation of who we are, where we're going, and what we sound like 'live.'" Nelson wrote quite extensively through the band's recording process, including compliments for the mixing (by Bill Collins of the Minneapolis-based band All the Way Rider) and thoughts about the guitar tracking and guest vocal contributions of Rob Dz.
Nelson was also optimistic when recording began early in the summer. He wrote:
I'm really excited as the material reveals some new directions for the band. We've also experienced some incredible growth as a group over the past two years. You can expect music that explores rhythm and groove a lot more than our past material. And although there's less movement harmonically, it's more thought out and in a sense more complex that where we were previously. Also, for you Musos out there, more solos!
The past two years have seen a lot of changes in this group. We're now a four piece with no permanent drummer. We've been lucky enough to have Robert Schoville of Reptile Palace Orchestra fill in for the new recording. His presence during the writing process has had a big impact on the group. His mastery of percussion and overall aesthetic has been a great boon.
This new album follows their 2003 debut, Projections, an eleven-track inventory of their initial vision of rhythmic and electronic power pop. The Dorothy Herald's profile has risen considerably over the ensuing three years, reaching one peak last spring when they won the 2006 Madison Area Musical Award for Best Electronic Song ("Beautiful") along with MAMAs nominations for Best Unique Song ("Now") and Best Overall Artist categories.
More of the group's songs including recordings of "California," "Good Morning," and "Inverno Rosa," are available at thedorothyheralds.com. The band's online home is brand new, actually, as their updated site was relaunched a mere three days ago. Though there's little online now, much more, including photos and news, should be in the works. There are nine photos of the band, though, in a photo set taken by Jonah Nielsen. Finally, more information and a sample of one of their new tracks ('Nora' featuring Rob Dz) are available at the band's MySpace page.
Every new album should be accompanied by a big release party, an event The Dorothy Heralds will be hosting at the King Club on Saturday, Dec. 9. Featuring spinning from DJ Anonymous, the party will also feature a taste of theatre, a draught of music, and perhaps some surprises. As an extra incentive, the band and club are offering free admission to their first 100 fans.
Less than two weeks later, The Dorothy Heralds will be returning to the King Club for an end-of-term pre-holiday performance on Thursday, Dec. 21. They're off for a few weeks then, before returning to the stage for back to back shows, the first on Jan. 11 at the Blue Chalk Club in Middleton and the second on Jan. 12 at The Klinic.
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.