The name Dolphin City sounds like a Lisa Frank-folder-sporting 8-year-old girls dream, but thankfully, the Newport Beach band is considerably more mature than that. In fact, with a record titled Discretion, minimalist album art that recalls such highbrow releases as The Decline of British Sea Power, and songs named I Am Love You and Presque Vu, its almost as if theyre pleading, Take us seriously! And why not? The music merits as much. Dolphin City cite predictably lofty sources of inspiration (Brian Eno, Talking Heads), but on opener Old Romance, they sound more like recent anthemic British band Starsailor; the passionate croons of I Am Love You recall fellow Orange County band Cold War Kids. Bouncier tunes Wine and Grapes and It Will (Dont Worry) sound a bit out-of-place, given the sterner tone of much of the record (they also have thinner vocals) but hold up well enough on their own. Piano is used skillfully throughoutavoiding the clichés of current piano rock (see OC expat Andrew McMahons Jacks Mannequin), perhaps taking subtle cues from another influence, Tom Waits. The instrument complements rather than overwhelms on tracks such as Do What is Right, a passionate paean on, yknow, doing whats right.Given the areas preponderance of feather-light surf rock and that so much of current pop seems to almost pride itself on being stupid, the more thoughtful approach of Dolphin City doesnt feel pretentious. Rather, its refreshing.
Tue., May 12, 7 p.m., 2009