Dear and the Headlights
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Dear and the Headlights

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Band Alternative Rock

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Nov
28
Dear and the Headlights @ FULL US w/Steel Train & Forgive Durden

10/18/08-11/28/08, Arizona, USA

10/18/08-11/28/08, Arizona, USA

Sep
07
Dear and the Headlights @ Midwest with Motion City Soundtrack and Margot & Nuclear So n Sos

9/16/08-9/19/08, Arizona, USA

9/16/08-9/19/08, Arizona, USA

Jul
20
Dear and the Headlights @ West Coast run w/Jimmy Eat World

7/15/08-7/20/08, Arizona, USA

7/15/08-7/20/08, Arizona, USA

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Rating:9/10

Maybe I’ve been bored with music lately. Things were beginning to get predictable. After popping in the Dear and the Headlights new album Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, I quickly remembered how much it had to offer me again. Quite a bold statement, I realize that but bear with me.

This album caught me off guard. Musically it takes a very calm yet full approach. The sound never gets loud and muffled but always takes on a very rich texture. The album takes is able to sound both detached and intense at the same time. That sounds difficult to understand, but the best way to really capture that is to imagine a room screaming and yelling and full of tumult with the sound off. The intensity is there and you feel something, only the calamity and noise is cut out. There is a never ending sense of order on the album musically.

Vocally I was even more impressed however. Call me nostalgic, but the vocals remind me a bit of the late Bear Vs. Shark mixed with Pete Yorn and Phantom Planet (I realize that’s probably a little awkward to imagine, but give it a shot). There is a full range of emotions. There is singing, calm vocals, and of course the well placed shouts. Vocally, the songs are laced with syrupy sweet feeling that come out pure in the song. In terms of the full range of vocal experiences, consider the songs “Hallelujah” and “I’m Bored, You’re Amorous” which both never find themselves in one style. The vocals on the disc add a nice compliment to the musical subtleties.

This sort of formula presented by the band is a great idea, but if it was unchanging, the album would lose momentum. The instrumentation picks up with aggression and intricacy on tracks like “Skinned Knees and Gapped Teeth” which showcases calm guitar solos and pulsating bass which gradually comes together to create a wonderfully enriched sound on the track.

Even when the album simply chooses to have more simple instrumentation as a backdrop for vocals, the sounds are always well placed. The use of keyboards (I’m a big sucker for keyboards) is sweeping and always a great accent to the songs. The song “I’m Bored, You’re Amorous” has a moment about halfway through when the keys come in for a second much more than throughout the song and it is simply breathtaking and captures what is so enjoyable about this band.

I haven’t been this excited about an album in a long time. This CD brings back memories of those times I popped in a CD and was blown away by the feeling of listening to something that made me feel something. It’s the sort of feeling music should give a listener. Dear and the Headlights have made something truly unique and have an approach to their songs which is reminiscent of at least one of my all time favorites. It’s a rare thing to find any sort of feeling in a majority of music today, when a band such as this comes along, you need to reach out and grab it, because if you don’t you are depriving yourself of something great. - None


At nearly 30 years old, I don’t want to be here. In line with about 200 teen-emo fans waiting to pile into Philly’s Trocadero, covered in the stink of spring-time Chinatown. And me, without my black eyeliner or apathetic slouch. I drove two hours for this. I sat in the car on the PA turnpike rolling the album over in my head planning Ian Metzger’s defining rockstar moment for him. I’d never seen them live, but headlining a four-act set half-way across the country means that someone appreciates Dear and the Headlights, no?

Hundreds of grumpy teen girls, their angry older boyfriends, and a few polite parents all seem to disagree: Dear and the Headlights are the opening act. Like…the first of three opening acts. No one here has even heard of them before tonight. The stars of this show are Plain White T’s. Don’t ask me why.

As an opener, Dear and Headlights deliver the kind of legendary set for which Radiohead fans pine. (Didn’t Radiohead once open for Alanis Morissette?) Imagine the OK Computer days relived through red-faced lyrics spat like turpentine from the tongue, acrid. The keyboard suffers a pounding, while the guitarists’ knees could give at any moment under the weight of this lush, fierce musical wall. Drums drop with a steady kick, and knock the feet out from under the rest of the band, drowned down to silence, and a whispered, sweaty Mr. Metzger purrs a lyric like: “See the gray in your hair, angel/Your beauty can’t be covered by insecurity.” Knock knock. Who’s there? The rest of the band. But they’re not just at the door, they are busting it down to wash over the stage in a deluge of spastic fits.

Then on to another stellar example of what’s right with music again, and every single body on that stage pulses with the keyboards and beats while the guitarist gains his footing anew and Metzger stands solid, lock-kneed yet thrusting a heel into the floor. Something has to give. He steps up the register. His voice steadily climbing up the ladder of keys.

“In this act I’ll disguise those dead eyes, stretch tight the lips, a glistening gum line. Mouth curtains pulled I shine. My yellow stage light smile distracting dancing puppets on short saliva strings.”

The build is obvious, you can tell you’re being played by the expertly raw (yet secretly choreographed?) melodrama of the band, and you love it. The crescendo is expected, but much better than you’d hoped.

“I wish I had a single thought the least bit legitimate enough to open up my mouth and spit accuracy. It’s getting easy.”

This is Joe Cocker in his heyday. Counting Crows before they became too cool to be cool anymore. This is what Blind Melon could have been with about two more years and one more great album. And the sad fact remains: no one is listening.

So if you’re Ian Metzger, how would you feel about having poured your heart into your first official debut effort at the request of the fans only to find no real fans waiting at the end of that long labor of love? You (now you’re Ian, remember) have read all of the hype that the Internet has created around you, and judging by the looks you’re giving me, you don’t even know that you’ve created 2007’s first indie-pop, guilty-pleasure masterpiece.

And after all of the smoke and mirrors, you show up in Philly to play six songs to a room full of teens who came to see a one-trick pony scream through a set of jarring noise and then to disappear having made not even a ripple in the pool of musical relevance.

Let me recap the irony: you’ve made something amazing that people begged for, only to crawl out of your studio, hit the road, and find that no one anywhere seems to care.

I’ll make that my job. Just step back, leave the work of “caring” to me. It’s okay. I’m a professional.

(I’ll start off easy on you:) Dear and the Headlights is kind of a dumb name. The album, Small Steps and Heavy Hooves could use a better name too.

(Now I’ll let you get comfortable:) This album doesn’t do anything spectacularly new. Take Adam Duritz’s writing chops, Alanis Morrisette’s inability to emphasize the proper syllable, and Ben Folds’ hypermelodic tendencies. Sew all of these limbs together and you’ll have a ragdoll of jangly guitars and plaintive howls, too sweet to bear for more than two consecutive days and too heartfelt to share with your friends.

(And now I’ll drop the clincher:) Dear and the Headlights are a limp-necked ragdoll sold in a country store at a price much lower than its collectible quality should ever warrant. They are a secret on the shelf, and you’d be lucky to get out of the store paying the woefully low sticker price. I mean, it’s a joke, right? I could resell this damn thing on eBay instantly and make a profit, no?

“Oh No”, the first track drags you into a pool of pop confection, sweeter than cotton candy, stickier than the Pepsi syrup leaking from the box tubed up to the soda fountain at Wendy’s. Off to a slow start, the song quickly lifts up and po - Tony Conte


Dear and the Headlights
Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
Equal Vision Records, 2007
Genre: Indie Rock
Buy this CD from:
Equal Vision Records


Rating: 4 STARS OUT OF 5


The album is Small Steps, Heavy Hooves by Dear and the Headlights from Equal Vision Records. It is different kind of band for the label that is known for more hardcore music, but different can be very good.


There is no doubt that the vocals are what gives Dear and the Headlights its signature. Ian Metzger’s voice is earnest and compassionate, while his lyrics are obviously very personal and are sung with conviction. At times, it sounds like Metzger is about to break down and just start gushing about an ex-girlfriend. This emotive rambling works well on some tracks, but not all. Occasionally, songs travel all over place and come across very disjointed. Take, for example, “Sweet Talk”. Here, I get the feeling that the music doesn't have enough notes for the words. I am not saying I don't like the track, I just think they lyrics could have been trimmed.


Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, is filled with hooks that will make you want to sing along even if you have no idea what vocalist Metzer is saying. They are infectious melodies that will stick with you long after the song has ended and are supported by diverse guitar work. The guitars on this album alternate from a loud, fun romp to a soft, subtle plucking, often in the same song. The style and sound are similar to The Cure, Travis, and The Shins with the melodies and rhythms being deceptively simple, but completely effective.


There are a couple standout tracks that deserve special mention. “Paper Bag” is a ballad that is fronted by an honest commentary on dating and interpersonal relationships, and is backed, magnificently, by a multitude of slow guitars and soft drums. “Run in Front”, “It's Gettin' Easy” (could be a bar song with enough drinks), and “Hallelujah” are also of note.


This is not a revolutionary or overly original album, but it is a very solid debut with a talented songwriter and collective of musicians. The vocal style is unique and effective for the music as it gives the album a very gritty emotional punch without going overboard. There is no doubt this album will stay in my rotation for a while.

Reviewed by: mc beastie

- MC BEASTIE


Odd moniker, great record.
by Ed Thompson
March 7, 2007 - Even though I don't know him personally, Chuckie Duff is easily one of my favorite people in the music world right now. Duff is the bass player for Phoenix-based Dear and the Headlights and the impetus behind the band actually deciding to become a band.

For the longest time, friends Ian Metzger, PJ Waxman and Joel Marquard used to jam together - a vocalist and two guitar players, respectively - just for fun. Duff recorded a few demos of the trio, mixed and mastered the songs, and passed out the music to some friends. After a few months and a lot of rave reviews form those who were able to hear the demos, Duff could not stop thinking about the songs. So he offered to play bass, and after the four found drummer Mark Kulvinskas, Dear and the Headlights was born.

The band was signed to Equal Vision Records and their first release, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, found its way to my collection of albums to review. Being a self-described Grammar Nazi, I was instantly drawn by the odd name - the intentional misspelling and the cryptic co-opting of a popular catch phrase. The last time I picked up a CD of a band that chose to adapt a catchy saying for its name, I found Fair to Midland's debut EP, which is absolutely fantastic. Apparently lightning can strike twice, because Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is phenomenal.


Instant comparisons to Radiohead are going to be made, so let's just get them out of the way now. Lead singer Ian Metzger has a voice that, at times, can be very light, wispy and ethereal and then without warning, resonate with the most powerful and emotional quality this side of Thom Yorke. The difference, however, is that Metzger never really goes into the falsetto that sets Yorke apart.

Radiohead nods aside, I actually hear more of a sonic relation to Bay Area band Counting Crows. Metzger's voice often has that same plaintive wail that made Adam Duritz so famous back in the early 90s. The music that Dear and the Headlights plays also has a more conventional style and is a lot less experimental or electronic than anything Radiohead plays.

Despite the heavy comparisons, Dear and the Headlights has already cultivated its own sound. The diversity of the tunes included here is going to allow this band to appeal to a larger audience than most of their musical counterparts. Tracks like "Mother Make Me Golden", "Hallelujah" and "Sweet Talk" could just as soon be played on an adult contemporary radio station between Phil Collins and Third Eye Blind as it could on a local alternative radio station between Coldplay and Fall Out Boy.

The song that really caught my attention was the first track on the album, "Oh No". It starts off with Metzger singing over a single acoustic guitar. The chorus says, "Haven't had a day alone; haven't had a day alone since I met you." On first blush, I thought this was a nice love song. Of course, after listening to rest of the lyrics, I could not have been more wrong. One verse says "Oh No! I'm lying if I'm talking. It's what I don't tell you. You wouldn't like the truth".

Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is one of those albums that I could listen to over and over again and hear something new every time. It's those subtleties that make the album so good and place it near the top of my album of the year candidates. What's even more impressive is that as much as I think this record is so good, it is just hitting me that this record is finally arriving in stores now, so I will have to wait for a full tour and some post-tour downtime before I am able to hear what Dear and the Headlights has in store for us next.

Definitely Download:
1. "Oh No!"
2. "Hallelujah"
3. "Mother Make Me Golden"
4. "Happy In Love"
5. "Sweet Talk"

- Ed Thompson


Concretizing everything into a mighty voice.
Dear And The Headlights "Small Steps, Heavy Hooves" (Equal Vision)
By Peter A. Holden
Wednesday. Mar 07, 12:47 PM

Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is a triumphant return to recording for Dear And The Headlights. No strangers to solid efforts, their first two releases were powerful, emotive endeavors replete with variety and tasteful attempts at greatness. I say attempts because while they achieved a degree of the success in songwriting, they still needed to find a niche. They were lingering still in the raw. When I heard both early demos/EPs, I suggested that they were a bit like Bright Eyes in many ways. Still leaning on freshman toes, they needed a little more development in defining themselves. But now with their debut full-length, they’ve provided that needed definition. They are the jangly pop rock equivalent of the Superbowl: thoroughly planned in every detail, well-executed, intense and raucous, with the occasional Janet Jackson nipple or Prince phallic guitar dance to boot.

Along with defining their sound, Dear And The Headlights have solidified more of what that character seems to be about. They’ve moved further into the honkey-tonk, anthemic realm that they began with on their earlier EPs. Happy folk-rock moments edge closer to rock without losing any of the character of the former. Full-voiced and sometimes screamy vocals are their battleship’s colors. What you see for miles ahead through binoculars, the first signs of friend or foe, are the powerful vocals that confidently move strident. Beautiful lush guitar tones and happy toe-tapping drum beats carry through just about every track. And everywhere that these lighter-hearted forms drop away, the full force of this band comes through in their dynamic punchy rock moments. The whole record is a back and forth sharing of the spotlight between big powerful thrusts and more laid back headbobbing folk-pop. All in all, there’s a confident force pushing this beast along in whichever form it takes. But confidence is definitely the key take-away element. Dear And The Headlights have returned with an album exemplary of what they began to formulate the last two times out. They’ve concretized everything into a mighty voice.

- Peter A. Holden


Music Review: Dear and the Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
Written by Brandon Daviet
Published February 12, 2007

I’m not as into metal music, especially all the extreme forms that are popular, as I once was. That doesn’t change the fact that the majority of the CDs I receive to review have the volume and testosterone cranked to eleven. That said, I was surprised when I gave Small Steps, Heavy Hooves the debut records from Dear and the Headlights a listen.

The first thing I noticed as the band plowed through the disc's first track “Oh, No!” was, that in addition to obviously being a free thinking “metro-sexual” band, they have a tight chemistry. That is probably because the band's core members have been playing together for years and only recently picked their new, somewhat offsetting, moniker.

Musically Dear and the Headlights reminds me a great deal of early records by The Cure like Boys Don’t Cry or even Head on the Door. Dear and the Headlights have honed a catchy, acoustic based sound that shows hints of Goth influence. Songs like “I’m Bored, You’re Amorous” and “Skinned Knees, Gapped Teeth,” show that while the band frequently shows their sensitive side, they are not without their share of humor.

Hailing form Arizona Dear and the Headlights' fourteen song debut, produced by Bob Hoag, proves they are far from scared when the lights are shining on them.
- Brandon Daviet


Author's Rating:89%
Member Ratings:92%

Posted on 02-05-07 by Gabe Gross
Dear and the Headlights – Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
Release Date: February 6, 2007
Record Label: Equal Vision Records

I receive a lot of albums in the mail. Some of which are generally ignored due to a poor public relations tactics and others because the music is terribly formulaic in its genre. Neither of these were the case when I received a more than thick package from Dear and the Headlights bassist Chuckie Duff. Expecting a full-length and you're run-of-the-mill press kit, from the envelope poured out dozens of local and national press clippings, show reviews and features on the Phoenix-based quintet . Reading material; I like reading material. Tangled in the truckload of papers were two CD-R's. Awesome. Because I love it when a band is really serious about their music. Serious enough to throw two tracks on two separate CDs. Awesome.

Sarcasm aside, I took the bait and bit.

Wow. Thank you.

Dear and the Headlights—rounded off with Ian Metzger (vocals, guitar), Joel Marquard (vocals, guitar, keys), PJ Waxman (vocals, guitar) and Craigslist drummer Mark Kulvinskas—are able to execute an album that most indie snob rockers would sell their Dinosaur Jr. vinyl discography for. One part tonic What separates Dear and the Headlights from every other SXSW competitor is that this is their first

So who the hell are these guys? What’s the music like? The 53-minute, 13-track album proves to cover a multitude of ranges. Shaky vocals, like Conor Oberst, but more sober and controlled; elementary yet folliless percussions with figurative guitars set to chill bones through an indie/southern comfort feel. How's it come across altogether? Metzger’s lyrics tend to bounce while twining each song through daydreams (“Skinned Knees & Gapped Teeth”), wishes and love’s qualms (“Sweet Talk”). Lyric segments tend to be repeated and echoed while not losing the integrity of the song. The narrow-mouthed moan stands well through most songs although his range is well-defined through the entire album. Every guitar allows a layer of DATH’s whiskey sour feel to come through clear-cut picks and riffs and Kulvinskas’ percussions shelve the album into a trophy case worthy to brag about.

The opening track “Oh No!” is a lively entry into what to expect; varying tempos and heightened instrumentals stir the folk rock into an amalgamation of modern rock genres. “Hallelujah” is a reminiscent melody that is built on delicate guitar picking and subtle bass tones and dives through memories of a loved one. Likewise, Metzger muses himself once more and wishes his childhood were the present time with "Mother Make Me Golden" with a steady increased tempo allowing for a burst of yelps in the end. A more fun, upbeat track "I'm Bored, You're Amorous" excites the vocalwork even more, in so tickling the guitars introducing subtle, energetic keyboards. A personal favorite for myself is "Skinned Knees & Gapped Teeth,” mainly because of the childish reference to using technology to do things our parents wouldn't ever approve of (on, and the Thundercats reference).

Bob Hoag (The Format, Limbeck) controlled the reigns of Small Steps, Heavy Hooves and does nothing to distract from the inventive quality that Dear and the Headlights began with. No distracting movie quotes. No ambient environments. The album stays raw for the most part (considering that Ian Metzger’s voice grabs a short digitized echo in the bridge of “Run In The Front”). Whether you’re a fan of the southern sound or a fan of indie rock, Dear and the Headlights go well beyond welding the two together. Enjoy!

Small Steps, Heavy Hooves. Big Imprint.

I'm like a paper cup with a pin prick.
You can fill me up, I'll only stay full for a while.
And wisdom's only shown me
that my loneliness is all my fault
And it's all my fault.
And I don't know what I have done wrong. - Gabe Gross


After nominating Dear And The Headlights for our featured spot and having them added to the comfy spot soon after, I started to play their songs on their Myspace to get a feel for how the record was going to take shape. I was curious to see if the dry and arid state of Arizona could turn out music that was filled with life and a flow that moves like the most rapid of rivers. It seemed to be ironically true with slow progression and a intensely comfortable indie feel, they had assembled their debut artwork in the form of "Small Steps, Heavy Hooves."
With music made like a true visual art form, they create perspectives and environments with their mellow sound that bases itself around rippling effects guitars, humbling instruments as a backdrop, and the leading voice of Ian Metzger that acts as a mood lighthouse. Songs come at you as dream sequences that seduce your senses and lull your mind with gentle beats and delicate fret work. Subtle sounds escape the waves of music and intrigue your mind. With a high concentration of acoustic riffs that encase the wiry electric guitars, It acts as a tasty treat like Peanut Butter M&M's with a delicious inside and out.

Using their suave instruments and voice as brushes, they conjure paintings that are filled with energy and layers of creative assembly. Each song seems to stem and continue from the song before it, which creates the feel of a long experienced journey that I am taking apart in. In many songs, the vocals break loose for a truly reckless spectacle of true emotion. I can't think of another band that can represent anything close to what DATH has to show us, as most other bands try so hard to share their thoughts but end up sounding cheesy or ridiculous. The mixture of message and well endowed musical flair is an ideal balance for each other, and you could say they were made to fit together like colorful puzzle pieces.

The melodious clouds that hazed my view were some complementary to my weary eyes as these lullabies of sorts were tying weights to my eyelids and getting me to a comfortable state that I haven't been able to reach for some time now. Now, not to say this music will put you to sleep, but it will help you relax so much that you forget where you are and you won't want to do anything but finish just one more song.

The detailed romp that we are privy to in "Midwestern Dirt" has a solemn feel that covers you in strumming acoustics and fireworks like electric guitars that give you that breath of fresh enriched air. With a more active and enhanced goal, "Grace" began to spin in our thoughts. With the still monotone vocals that seep from your speakers and lubricate the mechanism for instrumental industry. Leisurely strolls are a welcome pace setter as most of our lives are rushed and annoying, this soft music is unrushed and rather quaint. To me, "Run in the Front" seems to be their most positive song with the elements of a radio song, it springs out and grabs you attention while still keeping a steady pace. Their passion leaks through their instruments and alters their sound by adding more emphasis and impact.

I’m truly impressed with this debut album, as many artist's first albums are inclinations of what they want to become but can't quite get there yet, but for Dear And The Headlights it seems they have already found their groove and nothing will stop their progression. With their dreamy serenades and emotionally charged lullabies bring so much musical energy into you ears. Much like a famous painting, they have shown their talents and are ahead of the game, as they wait for the rest of the world to catch up and notice their unique sound. Simply beautiful and outstanding.

~ Pernell
February 08 2007 - ~ Pernell


In this music scene it's common to hear songs about love typically written with an abundance of clichés and melodramatic word-choice. With such love songs passing as the norm, it's always a pleasant feeling when a band comes around writing generally good love songs. The feeling is even better when said love songs are positive, as opposed to focusing on a nasty break-up or fight. While all the songs on Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, the debut disc from DEAR AND THE HEADLIGHTS, aren't necessarily about the good that comes from relationships, the album sure does have a lot to say in favor of love.

Arguably the most memorable song on Heavy Hooves is "Sweet Talk," a song that, oddly enough, focuses on the downside of past love. This is exhibited via the line "your new boyfriend, you've got your new boyfriend" during the track's chorus. As the album plays out, there are more upbeat themes of love as song titles like "Happy In Love" and "I Just Do" suggest. The former contains a slow-tempo with a gradual build-up highlighted by eerie, room-filling guitars and a relaxed vocal performance. Its lyrics are succinct, emphasizing the lyricist's "happy in love" ideals. The latter's lyrics are also rather transparent. Here, the vocalist sings lines that bring to mind an overwhelmingly happy couple at the peak of their infatuation ("calling to say hi on your break/ in less than twenty words you made my whole damn day/ and oh, I just love you, oh, I just love you"). Musically, the fellas in DEAR AND THE HEADLIGHTS keep things simple as easy-going guitars drive a majority of the song.

Looking for the right word to describe DEAR AND THE HEADLIGHTS music is a hard task. You'll hear a definite singer-songwriter influence ("Oh No"), a "we'll rock you like COLDPLAY" essence ("Grace"), and even a bit of country twang ("Skinned Knees And Gapped Teeth"). As odd as a comparison as it may seem on paper, there's something about DEAR AND THE HEADLIGHTS that brings to mind BEAR VS SHARK, sans the intensity. Vocalist Ian Metzger has the kind of range and tone that Marc Paffi successfully utilized during his time as the BVS frontman. However, the closest Metzger gets to shouting in a Paffi-esque style is briefly in "Oh No!" (see minutes 3:03 to 3:09).

Throughout Heavy Hooves, it's the subtle things that make DEAR AND THE HEADLIGHTS worth listening to. Whether it's a small backing vocal part in "Sweet Talk" or the production texture in "Run In The Front," there seems to be some delicate addition in just about all of the songs here. When you figure in all of these factors with the band's knack for writing sincere love tunes, you've got yourself a band poised to take the "genuine" tag and run with it. - Corey Schmidt


Overall Rating: 9.0

I saw it coming from a million miles away. Upon hearing some of the band's early demo tracks over a year back, I knew they were destined for greatness. You might think I'm being a bit overemphatic, but I assure you I'm not. Though I've already declared my undying allegiance, don't take this review with a grain of salt. This band deserves every bit of praise that I'm about to put forward.

Don't for a minute write Dear and the Headlights off as another one of Equal Vision's forays into the relatively mainstream punk rock realm. While I myself certainly hold Equal Vision in high esteem, their new addition is a welcome reprieve from the label's hardcore and "emo" laden roster.

Though this Arizona quintet seems to draw from an amalgam of influences, they still retain a substantial amount of originality. The band so effortlessly combines some irrestible pop/rock melodies with the slightly less contrived sounds of the alt-country and folk rock domains. The raw, unrehearsed vocal stylings of frontman Ian Metzger only further contributes to the band's signature rough and tumble sound. "Small Steps, Heavy Hooves" commences with a rousing, airy little acoustic romp before delving into the more acerbic (yet still completely delightful at the same time - if you can imagine that) and uninhibited sounds of "Sweet Talk." While I assure you that the band's debut is of the "do not press skip" type, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that their are a few tracks I hold more dear than others. "Daysleeper", which appears in it's original, unaffected demo version, is an acoustic testament to the ever so painful ordeal of unrequited love. "Happy In Love", a minimalistic, ethereal ballad, as well "I'm Bored, You're Amourous", which renders a completely different mood, might just take the cake. Metzger's incredibly fluid and conversational style of lyricism that pervades the entire disc simply makes the disc all the more compelling.

Debut records usually leave room to grow. Since the band has already created a stunning record in their early years, I can't even imagine what they're capable of at full capacity. Though it's only Feburary, I can assure you that "Small Steps, Heavy Hooves" will see it's way into my top 5 of 2007.

reviewed by Liz Jones - Liz Jones


Discography

2008 Drunk Like Bible Time - Equal Vision Records

2007 Small Steps, Heavy Hooves - Equal Vision Records

Photos

Bio

Who, exactly, are Dear And The Headlights? Sure, we know they’re an indie-rock band from Arizona. They released their debut full-length, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, to much critical praise in February 2007. They have toured the country over and again with a wider variety of bands (Circa Survive to Dredg, Plain White T’s to Straylight Run) than most acts will play with in their entire career, let alone in a year. Fresh off the road opening for emo powerhouses (and fellow Arizonians) Jimmy Eat World and pop-punk royalty du jour Paramore—a bill that has opened up a whole new legion of fans to Dear And The Headlights’ introspective, catchy, piano-laced, country-tinged rock.
But really, this quintet–Ian Metzger (vocals/guitar/keys), Robert Cissell (guitar/keys), PJ Waxman (guitar/keys), Chuckie Duff (bass/keys) and Mark Kulvinskas (drums)–are just five guys who love creating music. No frills. No egos. No exceptions. “I just want to play music,” affirms Metzger. “I don’t have a strategy for doing so.”
Things weren’t always as simple for Dear And The Headlights, though. After struggling for years to get the band off the ground and solidify a lineup, this five-some came together in 2006 to record what would become Small Steps, Heavy Hooves. Personnel questions aside, the band continued to demo songs, planning to self-release them on Duff’s (who was not yet in the band) own label, Common Wall Media. Though the recording was successful and DATH handed out CD-Rs at their live shows, the members weren’t sure how long they could sustain the band without a solid decision on who should play in the rhythm section. After some much-needed time off, the lure of the previously recorded material pulled the band back together, and Duff was an obvious choice for bass. Shortly after, a successful ad on Craigslist brought Kulvinskas to the mix, and Dear And The Headlights were complete.
The band intended to continue with the process of self-releasing Small Steps, Heavy Hooves when producer and friend Bob Hoag sent the self-released CD to Equal Vision Records and recommended the two get in touch. The band and the label discovered they had a mutual admiration for one another, and a new partnership was forged, leading to their 2007 full-length debut. However, most of the songs on the record had been five years in the making, and by the time the band inked a deal with Equal Vision and released their debut, they were different people, both musically and in the life experiences they’d shared.
A successful album and almost two years of touring under their collective belts, Dear And The Headlights are poised for a breakout and more comfortable with their emerging identity. Settled and happy with their lineup, DATH are releasing fresh material that reflects their current states as people and musicians - Drunk Like Bible Times, set for a September 30th release. “It’s just a good name for what it is - a party record,” explains Duff.
The Jimmy Eat World/Paramore tour was perhaps a strange lineup to some, but DATH are used to playing in front of disparate audiences with bands of all backgrounds. Last year saw Dear And The Headlights on the road with more than seven very different packages—all which worked due to the band’s universal appeal and broad musical scope. “We are influenced by every kind of music,” explains Waxman. “From Bob Dylan to Tool to Elliott Smith to Modest Mouse to Depeche Mode to Leonard Cohen to Tera Melos to Cursive to the Beatles to Radiohead to Joanna Newsom. If anything, we sound like everyone.”
Modesty aside, Dear And The Headlights have tapped into a sound that speaks to people of all musical “scenes,” from screamo to folk. The band has elaborated on their sound—captured some of their live energy—in the studio. Recorded with Hoag (who they also worked with on their debut), at Duff and Hoag’s Flying Blanket Recording, the band are ready to tackle new ground. “I think part of the issue with the first record is that we demoed a bunch of songs, and we just demoed them to death,” says Metzger. “By the time we ended up recording the actual record, I had to go in and sing about stuff that I didn’t even slightly relate to anymore. When we went into the studio and heard the polished version, we’re like, ‘Ugh! It’s a little lifeless.’ On this record, we didn’t demo any of the songs. We let playing them out live kind of be the demo—just by playing it out and remembering how it sounds live.”
“The song-writing process is very collaborative,” adds Waxman. “Anyone who has an idea—if everyone likes it—we put it in a song. We’re all very open to criticizing each other and don’t lift our chins on any idea. We luckily don’t really have any problem of egos, so things work out really well.”
While the band hope you hear—and enjoy—their newest material, they’re not about to take the liberty of telling you how to interpret it. “I made a decision after the last record to not discuss the meaning of any of my lyrics for the songs o