Culture Shock

Our first ever release is more than just a trip down memory lane; it’s a politically charged collection of hardcore punk anthems whose relevance never seems to dissipate, even ten years later. There are hundreds of records that “you had to be there” for, but this isn’t one of them. Recently licensed by Day After Records, vinyl is once again available for this classic.

Taylor Steele: Vocals
Bo Steele: Guitar
Brett Winletter: Guitar
Miky Scheer: Bass
Kyle Walker: Drums

Recorded April 1990
Released August 1991

Recorded at Why Me?, NJ
Engineered & Mixed by Joe Deluca
Produced by Tim Owen
Mastered at Future Disc by Eddie Schreyer, CA
Layout by William Colgrove
Cover Photo by Chris Toliver
Band Photo by Tim Owen

1. Values and Instabilities
2. Culture Shock
3. Greed
4. I Witness
5. Cleanse the Soul
6. Intro
7. Search
8. Price of Silence
9. Filled
10. Back on Top

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Jade Tree records is the voice of great indie rock music in a time when most labels are scuttling about trying to sell as many crappy records to stupid kids as possible. They sign honest, hard-working, original bands, and this band is certainly no exception. There is something especially soothing about these guys, who I would simply label as soft indie rock/post punk. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and I will definetly be listening to it again. The vocals are not in the least bit whiny or annoying, always a deciding factor for me. Some people can enjoy music and ignore the vocals but not me. This guy sings as well as writes the music, another impressive thing.
Anyways, this is a very solid and easy going release. It would probably relax you if you’re stuck in traffic or be great to make out to. If any of this sounds good to you then go get this ASAP.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

I’ve heard that 80% of statistics are made up on the spot. And I’m pretty sure that when I heard that, it was being made up right then. It was, after all, on a morning radio show, a forum not known for its dedication to research or its reliance on hard facts. I’ve also heard that 40% of what you hear on the radio are complete fabrications. For example, Justin Timberlake did not really want you to cry him a river, and Mariah Carey is not being entirely honest when she tells you that “we belong together.” However, sources indicate that Lil John sincerely wants to get crunked, and I am inclined to believe him.

So a lot of statistics are made up, and such is the case with this band of the same name. Statistics is one man, Denver Dalley, a few friends, and a musical vision. Once hidden in the shadows of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst as fellow members of Desaparecidos, Dalley has stepped forward and into his own as a one-man band.

Like Pedro the Lion’s David Bazaan or the aforementioned Oberst, Dalley is the orchestrator and sole fixture in his “band,” doing as much as he can on his own (guitar, vocals, synth, etc.) and enlisting the help of friends and associates to do the rest. The final product is perfect indie pop. This is the kind of music that makes you glad that music exists. It won’t make you angry, it won’t make you sad, it will just make you happy to be where you are enjoying the sound from your speakers.

Dynamics and layers are what truly make this album great. Dalley is not afraid to forego the typical drums/bass/guitar formula typical of the indie pop genre in favor of more synthetic sounds. Fortunately for the listener, the choices feel entirely appropriate and never calculated. Guitars are wrapped in blankets of electronic textures, warming their bones by a fire fueled by dreamy pop and solid indie rock. Simply put: every song is a pleasure to experience.

The lyrics are excellently written, and particularly modern. Several times I found myself asking questions like, “Did he just sing something about cell phones?” And yes, he did. Lyrically, this record is a reflection of our time and the overlap between band life and real life. And all of this without distancing the listener (because these days everyone knows someone in a band).

If you’re looking for comparisons, I would suggest a mixture of Pedro the Lion and Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity album. But this record does not borrow or emulate; it merely reminds.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Often Lie is the second full-length from Omaha’s one-man wonderband, Statistics. For the unfamiliar, Statistics is the brainchild of former Desaparecidos member, Denver Dalley. Though he enlisted the help of extra musicians on the album, Dalley pulls the whole thing off onstage by himself with the help of a laptop. Clocking in at barely over half an hour, Often Lie is a nice collection of incredibly poppy, loud guitar-driven songs. Nothing too hard to swallow here. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case, as Dalley’s lyrics are clever enough – within each song and contextually as an album – to keep fans of this style hooked.

Wonderfully recorded by A.J. Mogis, the album starts off with "Final Broadcast," which tells of a college radio programmer’s last night on the air. Within the first 10 seconds, the song bursts with huge guitars leading into a chorus that would sound completely at home on a major radio station. Make no mistake: this is poppy stuff. It’s very accessible and melodic in a style that many have abandoned as of late.

But Often Lie isn’t just another meat-and-potatoes pop record. The electronic elements prevalent on Statistics’ debut Leave Your Name are still present but to a lesser extent. The album’s centerpiece, "By(e) Now" (also the strongest track), alternates between an organic-sounding band and a electronic-EQ-manipulated wash. "Nobody Knows Your Name" climaxes with a harsh hiss that crescendos right into the track’s abrupt end. The tricks are subtle but effective enough to keep the songs from being too formulaic.

This is a nice album and a refreshing reminder that simple doesn’t have to be boring.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

The Germans invented the word "wunderkind" for a reason. Case in point, Omaha whiz kid Denver Dalley, whose one-man-rock-machine Statistics garners such Teutonic praise with ease. The towering Dalley (6’3"!) used to play guitar and co-write for Conor Oberst’s "other" band, Desaparacidos, though evidently Oberst’s penchant for out-and-out sludge and look-at-me emotional histrionics didn’t quite fit his more understated bandmate. Under the Statistics moniker, Dalley plays Lou Barlow to Oberst’s J Mascis, as he strikes out on his own with a simpler, more direct take on his old band’s signature sound.

Statistics’ new album, Often Lie, features an army of Dalleys: The talented multi-instrumentalist handles everything from guitar and vocals to vintage synths, drums, and beat programming (thus the "wunderkind" label). Despite the album’s insular process, the "band" sounds huge. Opener "Final Broadcast" begins with muted guitar jangle, instantly demolished by a fuzzed-out power chord, fading into a teen-angst-anthem chorus with a heartwrenching melody. Dalley knows his pop songcraft, and Statistics’ songs are uniformly lean and catchy.

Dalley whispers the kind of starkly confessional, emotionally naked lyrics that seem to come easier to the alienated Midwestern psyche. On the standout "A Foreword," an achingly sweet tune wafts over a pummeling rhythm section and buzzing synths. In the midst of the maelstrom, Dalley offers a paean skyward: "A way to begin, let’s start over / I’m dying to be living and / Things seem better from the start / I don’t care if I finish this time." Statistics romanticizes teen angst like a heart-covered journal, finding a warm corner in between disparate strains of emo-punk and nestling in for a lonely night.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Okay, I’m sure Statistics’ Denver Dalley, bandmate of Conor Oberst in the underrated Desaparecidos (Saddle Creek), is sick and tired of having his solo project compared to Bright Eyes. So let’s not even make the comparison. Instead, let’s focus on what Dalley is doing right on Often Lie. From the opening strains of "Final Broadcast," his cheesy but touching ode to college radio, it’s clear Statistics are here to revive those fuzzy feelings of mid-to-late-’90s emo rock. Yep, we’re talking Jimmy Eat World, Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate … Is this perking you up at all? If so, Often Lie is gonna get some serious spins. But, no worries for those looking for something a little more current – it’s not all decade-old emo rock on this multifaceted album. More like an ode to those days with a current twist; tracks like the lovely "Say You Will" and the downright contemplative "By(e) Now" could easily stand up against any band the cool neighbor down the apartment building hall is cranking first thing in the morning. And, yes, that includes you-know-who. Oops, sorry, there I go …

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Denver Dalley has a great great great talent for putting together perfectly soaring, monumental guitar riffs – if you listen to them, they’re extremely simple. No fancy pickwork or anything, but just the melody is perfectly put together, the ambience riding over it all is so deeply emotional. Just when the opening track, "Final Broadcast," kicks in near the end, you’ll know what I mean. Just three chords, one above the other, but there’s just a way that those chords are played that comes together perfect. He gently describes simple things – holding one’s own hands, taking a drink – but gives them a striking visual, as though the mere blink of an eye can be the most telling thing in a world a person could do. His signature guitar sound is weaved through a lot of the songs. It’s very prevalent, and that might bug me for its ever-presence (like there’s nothing else he could think to do with that guitar) if not for the fact that all the other perihperal things in the songs make each so unique. That guitar sound is the unifying element, and everything else jumps off from there in a wide arc. "No Promises…" – I could cry, I love this song so much. When I listened through the disc for the first time, I was walking along a lagoon in a sunset so bright, it’s reflection off the rippling water was blinding. That was my first glimpse of this song, and it seemed suiting to the gulls wheeling around me. I had to repeat the song. By then I was walking through a cool tangle of woods and blossoming blackberry bushes. I had to repeat the song. By then I was on the oceanfront, where the violent tide was coming in, angrily smashing foamy waves against the retaining wall I was walking along, sending a sparkling spray of water five feet above my head in the sun. It was perfect. What a beautiful, haunting, lonely-sounding song. Keeping in with what we’d discussed some time ago, there are less instrumental songs on this album. In fact, only one – the ender, "10/22" which culminates the album much like a freakout show-ending jam session might. Just heaps of reverby guitars battling with grittier guitars, intermittent drums, and then that’s just it…

Another amazing showing by the soft-voiced, swirling guitared Denver Dalley.

Song of choice : "No Promises." Honestly. Gut-wrenching. I feel so sad…

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Just who is Denver Dalley? The question’s troubled listeners for a while now. Although he has a fair amount of work on his resume – an album and an EP fronting Statistics and an album playing guitar in Desparecidos, the Nebraskan’s oft-wandering musical tastes always made him a tough nut to crack. Was he a melody-loving indie kid? An experimental weirdo? A guitar-worshipping rocker? You could argue all three using bits and pieces of his Statistics work.

On Often Lie, Dalley’s second full-length as Statistics, everything slowly comes into focus, and the answer is he’s all of the above – but not in the segmented bits and pieces as before. This time, Statistics unifies Dalley’s musical vision to deliver the most song-based work in the band’s catalog, using hard-rockin’ guitars as the foundation for all his musical misdirections.

At long last, Statistics has an album that’s cohesive from end to end. While this might ruin some of the playful charms that made the eclectic (or schizophrenic, depending on your tastes) track listing on Leave Your Name (2004, Jade Tree), it establishes Dalley as a fully functioning songwriter with a vision rather than a helter-skelter I’ll-record-anything ethos. It also makes for the best songs in Dalley’s small catalog.

Dalley condenses his myriad aims into a package, showing that it’s OK to be an indie rocker who loves loud guitar. “Final Broadcast” opens the album with light, jangle-pop guitars interrupted by a crunched-up electric that burst into full power-pop punch for the chorus. “No Promises” puts rolling, full-rock-style drums under ballady guitars for a sound stuck somewhere between The Foo Fighters and Death Cab For Cutie. “Nobody Knows Your Name” and “Bye(e) Now” dabble with electronic-damaged drum sounds and guitar synths for a sound that alludes to emo-pop’s glory days without needing to drag its carcass out of the ground. With a new ear for layering his arrangements, Dalley (who writes and performs the entire album by himself) discovers a way to make all aspects of his musical personality shine on Often Lie.

Dalley doesn’t redefine our notions of indie rock, power pop or even the legacy of jangly emo (which informs Often Lie more than he’d probably like to admit), but he does strike an uneasy truce between the three to finally answer the “Just who the heck is Denver Dalley?” question.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

"Lately, songs don’t sound the same as they did."* Sad, but true.

Often Lie is a different release from the Statistics’ debut Leave Your Name: less vintage keyboards and less instrumentals, and more buzzing guitars. Yes!

Denver Dalley (guitarist for Desaparecidos) is the Statistics. A one-man gang that can construct a towering rock sound as easily as a five piece, Dalley creates moody indie-rock that lingers like a thick fog, blurring your vision yet rousing the senses.

Fuzzed-out guitars and spine-chilling reverberating guitar picks slowly drift about without hurry. Cold electronics quietly smolder beneath layers of guitars, bass, and drums while Dalley’s warm vocals are gentle and soft-spoken, as if he’s personally whispering words into your ears. Parts of Often Lie are quiet and laidback, others are poppy and full of powerful rock. At the right moments Dalley knows when to pull on the reigns, and also when to whip for a burst of acceleration and increase in volume. This give-and-take approach perfectly balances Often Lie.

From the rock guitar thrust of "Final Broadcast" to the cool and calm Pedro the Lion-esque "Begging To Be Heard," to even the sonically expansive instrumental closer "i0.22," Often Lie contains great diversity, cold and humid, gentle and energetic. My favorite track off the release, "By(e) Now," perfectly encompasses both the chilly electronics and the organic warmth of a six-stringed guitar.

I enjoyed the company of Leave Your Name, but Often Lie has my heart.

A Statistics that doesn’t Lie

There’s something that strikes me about Statistics.

No, not the math, the band. I hate math, but this band kicks ass.

That the band’s newest endeavor is titled Often Lie is a mere bonus. Statistics is Denver Dalley, a Tennessee/Omaha veteran of the band Desaparecidos, and his work is simply striking.

He has shown great leaps and bounds since his last release, Leave Your Name, where his vocals were meek and nervous, and the album was full of intricate instrumentals. Often Lie departs from his previous efforts, which featured more instrumentals, but that style isn’t absent. Instead, he builds on his ability to write instrumental songs and completes them with brooding lyrics.

He borrows from other artists (namely Rilo Kiley – Dalley’s "Say You Will" resembles Kiley’s "Portions for Foxes" faintly), and he puts his own touch on the tracks.

Dalley’s strength will always lie in his live performances, and I’d be willing to bet that the performances of the songs on Often Lie will solidify them as quality pieces. When Desaparecidos (in which Dalley played guitar) was around, he was bouncing around the stage, seriously rocking out, and even though Statistics’ material is less intense, his stage presence remains strong. His new-found confidence will only make his live performances better.

Often Lie is quick and full of complex lead and backup guitars that work well. Standout tracks include "Final Broadcast" and "At the End," although Dalley’s lyrics fall a bit short through most of the album. His words are simple, and the messages are clear, which can either be a strength or a weakness, depending on your expectations.

The only instrumental that shows up on the album, "10/22," closes out a true-to-style Statistics record with more than five minutes of swells, ebbs, and crescendos.

Often Lie is a quality album, far better than previous solo work by Dalley, and it demonstrates that his style and confidence as a frontman are slowly growing and blossoming. With a few more records, he will find his niche, and then Statistics will shine on- and offstage.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Honestly it is a pure joy to listen to Statistics´ latest record. “Often Lie” is their second full length on Jade Tree records. The label is pretty known for bands like Pedro The Lion, The Loved Ones or Paint It Black I am totally amazed by the bands latest release, which I would describe as solid Indie or Emo-Rock release. The songs convince the listener with nice and emotional rock songs, which make it simple to dream to. The record shows a strong similarity to bands like Jimmy Eat World or Solea. In general I would say, that “Often Lie” is a pretty mature and romantic record with warm and cosy vocals combined with drum computers and synthesisers. Yeah, I feel like back in 1998, when the word Emo was born. Statistics definitely belong into this genre. Their latest record contains 8 songs plus one instrumental song, which deal with pretty normal themes like Love. The soft and careful drum- and guitar work, as well as the silent parts which are only underlined by electric guitars or synthesizer, make this record so special and pleasant.

Statistics [I]Often Lie[/I] Review

Nebraska is home to so much more than hate crimes and endless fields of crops. It has culture. It has music. It has tall, corn-fed indie-rockers — Denver Dalley, for example. Formerly of Desaparecidos (with Conor Oberst, also of Bright Eyes), Dalley has been occupied with his one-man plan, Statistics, since 2003. When he broke away from Desa’s harsher sound, he created something new, something easier to digest. Onstage, he rotates from guitars to synthesizers, from open vocals to distortions, sometimes singing through a teeny-tiny bullhorn. The sound is relaxing and easy, and his songs move fluidly from mellow to energetic. On the cusp of a new release, Often Lie (July 12), Dalley’s 27-city tour kicks off in Lawrence Friday.

New Statistics Album Due in July

In his ongoing efforts to distance himself from the great double-LP shadow of his former bandmate Conor Oberst and the Saddle Creek scene in general, Denver Dalley (of Desaparecidos) will release his second album under the Statistics moniker on July 12 via Jade Tree. Entitled Often Lie (a obvious yet somewhat endearing play on the band’s name), the record will contain nine tracks, and may even deviate from the sound of the last year’s debut Leave Your Name, which, if you believe our estimable reviewer Alan Smithee, is a good thing. According to his press release, Dalley says, "I think the main reason that this album sounds so different from the last one is a lot of those [older] songs, I wrote when I was at home or sitting with a keyboard, whereas this Often Lie is more written on the road last year." Less electronic noodling, more road-tested chops? These nine songs will decide if that’s all talk:

01 Final Broadcast
02 Nobody Knows Your Name
03 Say You Will
04 No Promises
05 A Foreward
06 By(e) Now
07 Begging to Be Heard
08 At the End
09 10.22

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Having previously existed in the shadows of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and consequently been deemed just another player in emo’s most fertile heartland — Omaha, Nebraska’s Saddle Creek Records — it’s no wonder Statistics frontman and multi-instrumentalist Denver Dalley felt slight pressure while making the band’s debut album, Leave Your Name. "The songs are all done/ And as they go down on tape/ The critics click their pens," Dalley speaks-sings up close and languidly on opener "Sing a Song," cutting to the chase right off the bat. Statistics are ready to be labeled — they just want to beat you to it. The song then bursts into a wall of noise built on screaming synth effects, bludgeoning beats and plunging electrified riffs, killing any notions that this would be just another quiet, whiney emo record. "Please don’t pout or sing of love, it’s all been done," Dalley — who also plays in Bright Eyes side project Desaparecidos — continues later on "Sing a Song," as if repeating the nagging voices in his head. He doesn’t need to be reminded; he already knows, having invented a loud and severely impassioned polished rock sound of his own, and Leave Your Name plain proves it. The 11-track album delivers sad moments woven around heart-tugging piano and fragile singing ("2 A.M."), dark, spine-tingling instrumentals made of mighty, spiraling riffs, gritty effects and threatening drums ("Mr. Nathan") and high-energy romps led by reverb-drenched vocals and beautifully layered arrangements ("Hours Seemed Like Days"). While name-dropping is always helpful when looking for media attention, Leave Your Name suggests just what it says — with a wonderful sound like theirs, a name is beside the point; leave it behind.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Denver Dalley’s a man who’s spent the last year and a half standing at the foot of success. He’s seen his good friend and bandmate Conor Oberst go from local buddy to Hollywood Celebrity practically overnight. (Yeah, I know, but come on, when you’re in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone, on all the late-night shows and have been seen with Winona Ryder, you’re a celeb. Get over it.) Dalley’s quietly observed Oberst’s rise to fame, but he’s also been lucky enough to see the other side of the coin, to see how it really affects people. Due to the rising success of Bright Eyes, Dalley’s had a little extra time to focus on his own projects, as his band with Oberst, Desaparecidos, had to go on hiatus. Thus, Statistics was born.

Leave Your Name is an album in name only. It’s a very brief affair, and it’s not really a traditional album–of the eleven songs on the record, many of these tracks are nothing more than instrumental transitions between full-length songs. Though this might be seen as a lazy move, in Statistics’ case, it’s not, because these little clips form a really cohesive bond, making Leave Your Name less of an album as it is a scathing symphony slash song cycle about emo, celebrity and being a musician. He calls music journalists on the carpet ("Sing A Song"), talks about music technology ("Hours Seemed Like Days"), dealing with girls who don’t really realize they’re nothing more than groupies ("2 A.M.") and discusses the conflict between touring musician and having a normal lifestlye ("The Grass is Always Greener.") Soundwise, it travells from pretty instrumentals ("Circular Memories") to driving, radio-friendly indie-rock ("Sing a Song,") depressing atmospheric rock ("2 AM") and engaging piano movements ("Chairman of the Bored").

Leave Your Name is a really enjoyable and surprisingly solid affair. True, there may not be that much in the way of substance–it’s too short to really offer that much–but when listened to as a whole, it’s a really impressive, interesting and thought-provoking record. It may be brief, and it may not be particularly gossipy, but Leave Your Name is a most interesting snapshot about what a member of the overhyped Omaha scene happens to think about his life–and the life of those around him.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

The full-length Statistics album has come quickly on the heels of the self-titled teaser EP, but nothing could have been too soon considering the sense of wanting I was left with after hearing that disc. "Leave Your Name" presents eleven tracks of Denver Dalley’s elegant indie rock laced with electro-pop. It’s a mellow, sublime piece of music that’s engaging and stimulating at the same time. It’s the kind of calming music that would be perfect to wake up to; it’s fused with just the right amount of energy to lift the spirits without as much as jolt.

There’s some instrumental soundscapes on the disc just as there was on the EP. In what has got to be the biggest improvement since that EP, the tracks are strung together much more smoothly. It’s difficult to tell sometimes where one track ends and the next begins. As a result, there’s not much to detect in the way of filler; the album as a whole is immensely satisfying.

If a band like Sigur Rós provides the soundscape to the arctic circle, Statistics might just do the same for the North American midwest.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Denver Dalley hails from Omaha, home to some of indie rock’s finest bands – among them, Desparecidos, the band he co-fronts with Conor Oberst. Though Desparecidos may be what Dalley is currently best known for, Leave Your Name could change that. Statistics, Dalley’s one-man side project, dabbles in electronics to create experimental, at times spacey, indie rock. Clocking in at just under a half-hour, the album is extremely consistent with one track melding seamlessly into the next. The opener "Sing a Song" kicks things off with huge guitars riffs, catchy choruses and well-placed synths. "Hour Seemed Like Days," which draws the most influence from Desparecidos, is another standout and is the only song on the album from last year’s Statistics’ self-titled EP. Other highlights include "The Grass Is Always Greener," which features Cure-like synths, and the lush and dreamy "2 A.M."

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

I remember reading the insert in Rage Against the Machine’s debut, where they seemed quite adamant in their statement that none of the recording was made using anything other than guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Even though I knew less about music production then, I was still surprised at the animosity of “rock” musicians towards their peers who chose to use electronics in their music.

Now, almost a decade later, while some of that attitude has disappated, I still hear people speak disapprovingly about those “pseudo-musicians” who compensate for their alledged lack of talent by using computers and keyboards. However, the truth of the matter is that while keyboards and computers certainly make it possible for anyone to make music, it certainly doesn’t help an untalented person make good music.

Luckily for Statistics, Denver Dailey has talent in spades.

His best known project is probably his Pinkerton-inspired collaboration with Bright Eyes’ Connor Oberst in the excellent and underrated Desaparecidos, who effectively showed us that Bright Eyes’ alter-ego had far more to offer than maudlin ruminations about life. Playing guitar and acting as primary songwriter in that band, Dailey fine tuned his ear for catchy melodies, and for finding energetic dynamics in the most unlikely places.

And it is in these unlikely places that we find Leave Your Name, because electronics aside, Denver has produced a record which could translate perfectly into a live band setting. Statistics is clearly and undeniably a rock band. Take the opener, “Sing a Song”, which begins with pulsing beeps and layers on a drum machine as Denver whispers something disparaging about music critics. But seconds later, as his vocals jump an octave or two and the wall of guitars crash into the song, you couldn’t be faulted for hearing a little Desaparecidos in the track.

Later, on “Mr.Nathan” – probably the highlight of the record – he shows that you can carry an entire song without vocals, and still provide the kind of visceral rock edge and dynamics at which some of the best frontman have failed. And while comparisons to Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service project are inevitable, “Mr. Nathan” shows exactly why those comparisons are unfounded.

If I had to find a flaw with the record, it’s that some of the ideas are overused, like the soft-electronics leading to huge guitar-based chorus, and others are barely acknowledged before being thrown aside, like some of the more interesting rhythm sections. But those small criticisms aside, Dailey has shown unequivocally that he deserves equal praise to his peers in the critically lauded Omaha indie scene.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Led by Denver Dalley, who also co-fronts the Omaha, Nebraska, indie band Desaparecidos with Conor Oberst, Statistics come on like a more abstract, art-damaged version of the Cure. Stringing together synths, wall-of-noise guitar, found sounds and Dalley’s softly cooed vocals, their full-length debut is lacking in tunes but full of dreamy, seductive melancholia.

(RS 940, January 22, 2004)

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Writing and playing guitar for the Desaparecidos, this is Denver Dalley’s side project. "Leave Your Name" is the follow up to his EP, both released on Jade Tree, and "Leave Your Name" simply elongates the sound depicted on the EP, but is perhaps a much more inquisitive endeavor, suddenly suprising the listener with a simple riff that sounds akin to a pop punk song in the intro; or with the often anti-climactic, dark sound of the synths and guitar layers.

Though the sound of a clean guitar hook can get repetitive on this record, Dalley encorporates quite a myriad of hooks and ideas that are to-the-point and comes across as totally original. And, truly, few bands come across sounding like this; synth blasted dark pop with spacey, dreary chords and structures. Though the lyrics are nothing compelling and the songs meaning almost directly to the point, it’s the occassional variety of styles I was able to appreciate on this disc. For, after the droning, depressing "Accomplishment," Dalley envelopes the listener with a huge pop guitar line that reminds me of "Read Music Speak Spanish," but as if it were only a fluke, the next song continues the dreary dark journey the disc seems to keep coming back to.

While most of the songs are quite dark and slow, and sometimes take awhile to enjoy, the disc is a thoughtful, hypnotic disc that makes you wonder whether Dalley should stay in Desaparecidos or not. Well, maybe not that good, but it’s a pretty innovative, moody disc that makes the sound a dreary, rainy day would make.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Statistics is a creation of Desaparecidos guitarist Denver Dalley. He combines eletronic pop (which is produced through synthesizers) with guitar hooks. The songs that stick out the most also have some drum and bass, as well as piano. Dalley has a nice voice. He sings in a loud and high pitch or a low, mellow pitch. The electronica part of the band is the thing that grabs your attention first. It is interesting to listen to because it is a different style. The combination of these synth sounds with regular rock music provides for a decent outcome.

"Sing A Song" is the opening track. It quickly introduces a techno vibe. A guitar soon joins, along with Dalley’s singing. The song gets a little heavier throughout the chorus. There is some drumming added in and the guitar riff picks up. The lyrics are pretty clever in this song as well, as they talk about critics of music. Altogether, the song has a nice foundation and gives the listener a pretty good idea of what is to be found on the rest of the album. Another song, "The Grass Is Always Greener", leans more towards the full-band vibe. The opening guitar riff grabbed my attention right at the beginning. The vocals are performed very well throughout this song. Dalley sings "and the grass is always greener" in his uniquely soft-voice. Track 10, "Reminisce", is another song that features a full band sound. This song has the same type of feel as the one talked about before. The best part about this song is the intro and chorus. They have a nice combination of guitar and drums that are distorted.

‘Leave Your Name’ has a lot of good things going for it. The addition of electronic sounds definetly raised the level of interest for me. Some of the songs on the album tend to get a little boring and/or repetitive. I think a little more synthesizer would have added much more to the songs. However, the way Dalley sings and the way he throws his guitar talents into the mix provides for an overall decent album.

Standout Tracks:
"The Grass Is Always Greener"
"Mr. Nathan"

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Statistics is the brain child of Denver Dalley, guitarist for the Desaparecidos. When band-mate Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes got huge Dalley found himself with some hiatus time on his hands. Statistics is the result, a one man effort featuring guitar, drums, bass, and a host of synths to layer and create a stripped down and (what else) sad feeling album. He blends basic stripped down indie rock sounding music with these big spacey synth riffs that add to it a surreal, out of place feel. Statistics has been compared heavily to 80s synth-pop, mainly duran duran, the cure, and a few other unnotables, but it really does stand well on its own outside those comparisons. It seems the only press it has gotten has been Bright Eyes or Conor Oberst related, but this is way more listenable to me than Bright Eyes. I was totally put off by all the descriptions and comparisons, but when it comes down to it, this is a pretty damn good release. It is heartfelt, engrossing, and overall impressive for coming from one man. The only thing I would say is that if you are not a person too interested in basic stripped down indie rock or mostly into heavier stuff, this album may not be too persuasive, but I would encourage you to at least try it out. Four stars for a good release.

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Take Desaparecidos and subtract all the sharp edges – Take a file and round off the corners so that they don’t cut as you pass by them in the hallway. That’s what Statistics is. Denver Dalley has a knack for crafting brilliant indie rock that stands up easily to his other project, the aforementioned Desaparecidos, without the gritty, hard-to-listen-to-for-any-amount-of-time parts. But make no mistake, Dalley rocks just as hard on his own.

Statistics blends keyboards into the mix, and concentrates more on crafting songs of depth and interest, which reduces the sonic ambivalence found in so much of Desaparecidos’ music. The rhythms here are more intricate and engaging. The melodies more skillfully crafted. The guitars more full bodied and transfixing. The songs are full of feeling and primitive desire. "The Grass Is Always Greener" is an example of a sublime song that begins with lulling pads and jangling guitars, only to build into a frenzy of emotion and carefully controlled noise, which slowly fades, leaving only a brilliant drum loop playing. "Hours Seemed Like Days" runs the gamut of expression (like so many of these songs), but relies almost entirely on a more pure rock guitar to carry the song to its conclusion, recalling some of the finer moments of Bob Mould’s career. "It used to be that hours seemed like days/ let’s go back in time/It used to be that hours seemed like days/ let’s just press rewind." These are the remnants of emo at their very best. The songs blend together seamlessly, negating the normal effect produced by a collection of songs of shorter length. Rather, Leave Your Name feels like a whole; complete in its sincerity and magnificence.

Everything about Statistics makes me wonder why Dalley spends his time playing in other projects. Perhaps it’s just that he needs to be involved in something not so beautiful to turn around and create something of such beauty. A Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde sort of thing. Yin and Yang. Balance.

A Punk International Interview with Denver

When your first CD came out last year, I remember reading about it as a "Denver Dalley side project". Is that what it was intended to be?
That’s kind of what it was. At the time I was a member of Desaparecidos, so Statistics was something I did in my free time while Connor was working on Bright Eyes. But since then it has become more of a full-time thing, because it’s becoming so hard for us to work on Desaparecidos again. We’re hoping to maybe record, but I don’t think we’re going to tour again this year. Statistics has become my main thing.

I also remember reading that Desaparecidos was a side project for Connor since he’s in Bright Eyes, which would make Statistics a side project of a side project.
I guess that’s not how it’s turning out. I guess I can see why people call them side projects, because there’s a main project and then something else you’re working on. I get the logic and I get the point of origin, but it’s definitely changed.

And solo work is sometimes assumed to be a side project.
Yeah, exactly it’s not a full band out there.

Well you’re here today with a full band, right?
Well, normally I tour with two other guys. This tour, neither of those guys are on it; neither could make it. So it’s me and the bass player from Desaparecidos and then the drummer from Despistado is going to fill in.

Do you think some people will confuse Despistado with Desaparecidos?
Yeah, we’ve wondered that. It’s a funny coincidence. We met those guys at SXSW, because we were both playing the Jade Tree showcase. And we were joking about that. It’s a small world; we both have these bands that start with D and are hard to pronounce.

I was surprised to see that Despistado is the headlining band on this tour. They’re pretty new on the scene compared to you.
Well, they’re from up here and this is our first time in Canada, my first time ever being in Canada. I think they’re more established here than we are. And I’m pleased with the order. I’ve been in some other bands, but I’m still very new in Statistics.

How’s Canada treating you so far?
It’s been great. We didn’t have any trouble at the border or anything. I know so little about Canada, that’s why I’m excited to be here. Two of my other bands went through the States so many times that it all starts to look so familar. I don’t need directions to a lot of clubs now, and I know all the promoters – which is great, at the same time I was really looking forward to this because it’s all new.

How are things in Omaha now? You must have tornado warnings and stuff going on?
Yeah, we just had, outside of Omaha like an hour away, like eighteen tornados in one night.

Must be scary…
It should be, but I’m one of those idiots that just wants to see a Tornado so bad. I know that it’s horrible, but I just want to see it, like, in a field, where no one gets hurt and I can just watch it. I’m fascinated by them, but I guess it is kinda scary. It devestated some towns in Nebraska.

The first images I ever saw of Omaha were the movie "About Schmidt". And it’s funny because I was just talking about this movie with the band Moneen since they have a song called "Life’s Just to Short Little Ndugu".
His house is just a few blocks away from my house. I grew up in that neighborhood. Where he had that camper parked is where I live. But yeah, there’s not much to Omaha. The town’s just big enough that you won’t go crazy, but you bump into everyone you know. And when you meet someone, it turns out you had some of the same friends. Sometimes I’m super proud to be from Omaha, and sometimes I almost resent it in a way. People are like, "oh, you’re from Omaha, so of course you’ve got three different projects…"

Really, is it like that there? When I think of the Omaha scene, I just think of Saddle Creek Records. Since there’s just the one big label, it’s like you’re assumed to be on it if you’re playing music in Omaha.
That makes sense. There are a bunch of bands that are getting out there and finding labels outside of town, though.

Let’s talk more about the new album, since that’s why we’re all here today.

I don’t know where to start. Mainly I’m thinking that it’s a lot better than the EP from last year. I mean, the EP had a few really good songs, with some kind of instrumental stuff in between. Whereas, the new CD flows so much better. It’s almost like one long song, because you can’t always tell where the songs start and stop, but you can hear it progressing or evolving. There’s still some songs that stand out, but overall it’s really complete. Now I have no idea how to phrase that into a question…
No, I like that. The EP was kinda thrown together. It was a demo, really. I actually went into the studio and recorded more songs, but those were the ones I thought were some of the stronger ones, and I thought I could make them work as an EP. I sent that as a demo to Jade Tree, and they thought we could put it out as an EP. The album, though, I definitely wrote it as an album. I wrote one song into another, and left a gap for the end of Side-A on vinyl. I don’t know, I think it’s fun to be able to go through to hear the one track you want to here, or hear the whole thing in its entirety.

I think on the next album, I want to do each song with vocals, and then have preroll instrumentals, so that it still ties together. Not like there’s instrumental tracks and vocal tracks, but it will still flow. I like to switch it up between a more straightforward pop song, as well as a moodier, ambient instrumental piece. I feel like albums are, and I know it sounds really cliche, like the soundtrack to your life. I want to have a variety of moods to it. Some albums that you listen to are great, but every song has got the same feel to it. I want to do something more that’s all over the place.

How much does the artwork play into that? How much did you design or influence the artwork?
That was actually really fun for me. I finished the album, and gave it to my friend. I told him the name of it and some of the themes, and I told him to do whatever he sees in it.

Both the EP and the album have artwork that’s like a snapshot of where to be when you’re listening to it. One, just sitting somewhere in your house, not doing a whole lot. Like, I thought it was a good CD to put on early in the morning for when you’re pouring yourself a bowl of cereal. And two, just staring out the window, thinking about life.
Yeah, with the EP I definitely wanted to be sitting at a desk. That was just some office somewhere in Los Angeles. But it doesn’t look like an office. It could be at home.

What was the deal with the package being upside down?
I just thought that would be funny. I like how wide open the back of a CD tray is; it can hold a bigger picture. I thought it would be funny to make that the front cover. When people try open it they get all confused.

What about the name "Leave Your Name"? Something to do with an answering machine?
Exactly. That’s why the guy who did the layout took so many pictures of phone lines. But in a way it’s the same as going with the name Statistics. I want people to be able to interpret differently. You can look at it as all the name-dropping, "featuring members of Desaparacidos", stuff like that. Or, you can look at it as what I’m doing right now. My thing was the irony of wanting to talk to someone so bad, reaching out to them, but then getting stuck with that generic "leave your name" message followed by a beep. It’s one of those ironies. It can mean something different to someone else. To each his own.

I interpreted the name Statistics as being something like the opposite of music. You know, it’s just facts, numbers – no emotion, or anything. But on the other hand, statistics can be interpreted differently and used for different purposes.
And, it groups people that have nothing to do with each other. I mean, for one person, statistics might be baseball facts. For somebody else, it’s the number of drunk driving deaths. I think for music, and film, there should be some interpretation to it. That’s why sometimes I’ll phrase things more broadly instead of being specific, because I like it when people give it their own meaning or apply to their own lives. Nothing groundbreaking, but… (shrug)

Statistics [I]Leave Your Name[/I] Review

Expecting nothing is sometimes the greatest thing you can do. I remember the time where I made the realization in school that as long as I was expecting a D on every test, I was never let down. I somewhat carried this philosophy over to most of my music listening because I find that if I am expecting too much, I am let down a majority of the time.

With Denver Daily’s (the guitarist and main songwriter for Desparacedos) first experimental EP was released on Jade Tree, I thought it was a boring audio journey into mediocrity. In turn when I got this full length to review, I was expecting very little. Needless to say I was blown away. Far and above that of his previous, unfocused work. Starting off with the first song, Denver catches your attention with his most radio friendly song ever written. Then him and his friends, a Omaha who’s who list, create a very atmospheric and all encompassing record. I hear influences like Christie Front Drive, Mogwai, At The Drive In and The Cure leaking there way into this full length.

Now this is far from being groundbreaking for a band, but for one man to achieve this is quite an accomplishment that is not something to scoff at. It is bittersweet, biting and breathtaking all rolled into one package. A must for fans of anything Saddle Creek or Matador has put out in the past year or two.