I’ve got to hand it to Jade Tree. They’ve quickly developed a Midas touch for discovering interesting, intelligent artists. From Joan of Arc to Ester Drang, Paint it Black to Pedro the Lion,their roster is an unclassifiable catalog of really diverse, interesting music, and Statistics is a particularly wonderful little find. (It’s amazing how quickly they’ve shed that "emo" label tag, isn’t it?) Statistics is the teaser for a full-length album, so this is is but the beginning of the story.
Statistics is one fellow, Denver Dalley. You don’t know the name, do you? Probably not. But I’m pretty sure that if you know anything about indie-rock, then you’ll know that the band that he’s in, Desaparecidos, is led by indie-rock pretty boy and growing-older boy wonder Conor Oberst. Yeah, that’s right, Statistics is a band from Omaha. Forgive Dalley of that, simply because he’s actually good. It’s a good thing, too, that this record isn’t on Saddle Creek, because it’s certainly deserving of a better fate than that. What do I mean? Well, if this record were on Saddle Creek, it would never really rise above being anything but a "Bright Eyes-related side project," which would TOTALLY sell Dalley short. He deserves better, and hopefully he’ll get it with Jade Tree.
"Okay, okay, we know how you feel about Omaha, Joseph, but how does Statistics sound?"
Oh, I’m sorry, I got a bit off track there. Let’s get back to the subject at hand. If Oberst is magically turning into Rivers Cuomo as his audience grows younger and less interesting, then Dalley has deftly turned into Matt Sharp. Statistics is a dance through an electronica-based rock landscape, yet he’s clearly more ROCK than beats. He’s not trying to be the Faint or Broken Spindles; he’s working on a whole other sound. A sound that’s…um…how shall I say this…complicated yet commercial? Radio-friendly rock that’s complicated but has a new-wave streak yet is more in tune with what the kids, the target demographic is fond of? Just listen to "Another Day" or "Hours Seemed Like Days" and tell me that we’re not talkin’ college-rock radio hit here, folks. And, better still–this is the sound I have waited to hear, Dalley’s making cliched music GOOD again, and he’s doing it by actually focusing on the MUSIC, as opposed to being the pin-up model for the disenchanted high-school girl rebel and the college sophomores who love them. Who’d have thunk it?
This is a well-written, seamless little quarter-hour of moody, introspective and intelligent rock music, made by someone who is going to make a name of himself by stepping out from the shadows of Winona’s latest fling (not Dave Pirner–she only dates the current one-hit wonders). I’m eagerly awaiting Statistics’ debut album; if it’s anything like Statistics, then the days shall be worth the wait. Record of the year? Let’s hold off on that for right now, shall we? Best new band of 2003? Could be, kid, could be…