De Novo Dahl
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De Novo Dahl


Band Alternative Pop


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The best kept secret in music


"Serious Fun"

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a good place to start describing Cats & Kittens (Theory 8), the new record by Murfreesboro indie-rockers De Novo Dahl. The book, which was written by the band's namesake, Roald Dahl, is iconoclastic but tidy: you can spot the good guys, but the good guys cause trouble every now and then. Tim Burton's forthcoming film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, promises to be a darker, more complex reading of Dahl's tale. A two-disc set, Cats & Kittens is a lot like both: Cats has the mischievous charm of Dahl's tale, while Kittens mirrors Burton's jagged quirkiness.
Like Dahl's book, Cats is conventional, but with giddy moments that feel insurgent. The record's obvious references are American new wave and power pop, but as with DND's contemporaries Future Bible Heroes and Super Furry Animals, it avoids nostalgic overload by employing a healthy dose of indie weirdness. "Conquest at Midnight," for example, features staccato vocals and a synth-driven hook reminiscent of The Cars or Big Star—that is, until a dinky sounding synth patch takes over. More disorienting is the song's cocktail party repartee. Lines like, "You've got me trembling with fear / Well who hasn't my dear," sound like they came from a Hepburn and Tracy film, albeit via The Magnetic Fields.

The art for Cats features a roaring tiger; Kittens uses the image of a reclining domestic feline. However, the sinister look on Kitty's face is more menacing than the King of the Jungle's gaping maw, and that's a setup for Kittens, which is a twisted remix of Cats. "Conquest at Midnight," for example, reappears on Kittens as "Little Conquest on the Prairie." The back half of the song remains relatively unchanged, but the front half is a sparse, drum machine-driven version that relies on the plucked koto patch of the Cats version and replaces electric guitars with acoustic ones. Like the Gothic suburbia in Burton's Edward Scissorhands, the mix is jarring and uneven but pleasantly loopy.

Dahl died in 1990, so we'll never know what he'd have thought of Burton's film; reportedly, he hated 1971's simpleminded Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. There's also no telling whether De Novo Dahl's growing fan base will prefer the straight-up pop of Cats or the absurdist remakes of Kittens. Regardless, Cats & Kittens stands up as a whole due in large part to its underlying sense of rebelliousness, and that's something Roald Dahl knew a thing or two about.
- The Nashville Scene

"Cats & Kittens"

De Novo Dahl

Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint the moment when a band becomes bigger than a "local band." When did the Features do it? Feable Weiner? Venus Hum? Bands tend to grow fairly gradually until one day, they're touring Europe and you're thinking "I think their bass player still owes me rent." But in
the case of De Novo Dahl, that moment will come on Saturday January 29th when the band releases their ridiculously ambitious double album, *Cats & Kittens*, at the Exit/In.

De Novo Dahl threw out the pop band rulebook early last year when they hit upon the idea of recording more than an album's worth of songs, remixing each song and releasing all 32 tracks as a double album. Such an undertaking has destroyed more experienced bands. Nonetheless, DND has made it through intact and resulting *Cats* and its remixed *Kittens* should strengthen their already familial bonds.

The album proper is impressive enough - DND often sound like The Divine Comedy playing Kinks' songs on Pulp's instruments -- but the remix disc is just jaw-dropping in its imaginative scope. No song is "traditionally" remixed. "We remixed, we reworked, restructured, re-did the music," says Joey Andrews, drummer. "Sometimes we even took the words of the songs and
made them say other things. We had no boundaries."

*Absentee Ballad* is recognizable only by the occasional repetition of words from *MondayMorning*. Otherwise, it is a bizarre soundscape over which DND
recorded someone's voice mail messages. *Magic* makes a disco song out of *Cowboy and the Frenchman*. Such dedication to taking their own songs apart makes putting the pieces back together a blast. Their completely new takes on the songs makes *Kittens* just as listenable as its source material -a rare feat for a remix disc.

Now situated with the ever-impressive Theory 8 Records in Nashville, De Novo Dahl is poised to make their impact on the indie pop scene at large. Aaron Hartley, president of Theory 8, "was very open and receptive to the idea [of a double album]. He's a chance-taker, a go-getter," says Andrews.

It's a perfect fit for a band who says "we'll try anything." A philosophy that includes a hot dog vendor at the CD release show and, of course, cats and kittens, courtesy of the Humane Association.

--Todd Anderson
- All The Rage Magazine

"CMJ Review"

You wonder how many bands have had the same conversation, all hot and pumped on their first full-length: "Crazy dance remixes of the whole record! Double-album debut!" But to actually go through with it? That’s some ambitious beginnings. You couldn’t accuse Nashville six-piece De Novo Dahl of shying away from wild ambitions, though, well beyond the fact that Cats & Kittens is a big, fat 32- track bear of a debut. Cats houses the straight mixes, an amalgam of ambitious pop, rock, new-wave and party-funk ideas that run from silly to somber to just plain weird. They reach varying results with the genre-jumping—"Jeffrey"'s Flaming Lips-gone-glam quirk, "Ryan Patrick Huseman Darrow"'s Brit-rock bombast and "Be Your Man"'s popped-up garage grit are delectably effective, while "The Funk"'s goofy danceability feels a bit tired with repeated listens—but their grabbing from so many different bags is what makes them an exciting find. Kittens, meanwhile, holds the remixes—16 almost unrecognizable dance jams cobbled from bits and pieces of Cats’ tracks, chunky programmed beats, samples and synth squiggles. Was it better left as an idea that brought giggles to a band meeting? Nope. Had De Novo Dahl only released Kittens, they’d likely rule Williamsburg by now. It’s a wriggly collection of electro-pop that, while perhaps not as affecting as Cats, still purrs. As a whole, the band’s first offering feels something like a well-made mix tape: a little incongruous, maybe, but bursting with brilliant individual ideas. - >RENEE FALK


Self Titled EP - 2002
Cats & Kittens - 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Drawing on the tones of artists such as David Bowie, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, Super Furry Animals, The Kinks, Blur and Supergrass, De Novo Dahl debuted in the fall of 2001.

The Nashville based six piece features Vovo Bond on keyboards and lead vocals, Joel McAnulty on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Sandy Sandidge on lead guitar, bassist David Carney, all around good time vocalist/omnichordist Serai Zaffiro and drummer Joey Andrews.

De Novo Dahl's live shows are always fun filled and frequently feature themed outfits, audience participation and special events.

All dressing up aside, in May 2003 the band recorded their debut self-titled EP, enlisting the services of award winning producer David Zaffiro as well as Jason Lehning, producer of David Mead and The Bees. The resulting recording provides a snapshot into De Novo Dahl's passion for infectious, quirky, intellectual pop.

For their debut full length release entitled Cats & Kittens, the band spent two years holed up in their own studio recording over two hours of music on separate discs for one ambitious release. Cats contains the versions of 16 new tracks of De Novo Dahl material. Not putting any limitations on the creative vision of the group, De Novo Dahl remixed all 16 tracks giving birth to Kittens, the second disc. Cats & Kittens is now available from theory 8 records.

Cats & Kittens has seen immediate success with both press and radio. The band debuted at #89 on the CMJ Top 200 radio chart, being added at over 64 stations in one week. All The Rage Magazine explains, "The album proper is impressive enough - DND often sound like The Divine Comedy playing Kinks songs on Pulp's instruments - but the remix disc is just jaw-dropping in its imaginative scope. The band's completely new takes on the songs makes Kittens just as listenable as its source material - a rare feat for a remix disc."

Recent De Novo Dahl shows of note include, Athfest, Dancin' In The District, 2NMC, NEMO and Uptown Mix as well as supporting such acts as Wilco, Archer Prewitt, VHS or Beta, Blues Traveler, David Mead, I Am The World Trade Center, TV On The Radio and The Features. The band recently sold out the legendary Exit In in Nashville for the release of Cats & Kittens to a crowd of over 450 people. De Novo Dahl will be performing at South By Southwest, March 18th, 2005.

6 Songwriters, 4 Vocalists, 1 Sound, A Heck Of A Lot of Instruments, De Novo Dahl.