"Gleefully discordant properties of early Scritti Politti" – Uncut
"Willfully obtuse, yet intrinsically irresistible. Extraordinary" 9/10 – Classic Rock
"Hypnotic post-punk pulse exists in a continuum with bands like Wire and Omni— tight bass groove, melting guitar leads, and all" – Stereogum
"Slashing and contemplative" – Brooklyn Vegan
"Sprawling slacker jam" – FLOOD
"Spindly, propulsive post-punk that doesn't shy away from a bit of brawny catharsis" – Post-Trash
Chicago-based five-piece, Dendrons have today released their much-anticipated second album, 5-3-8. The band has found widespread acclaim for this new album from Uncut, Classic Rock, Stereogum, FLOOD, Brooklyn Vegan, Post Trash, CBC Radio, Under the Radar, KCRW and more.
The release of the new album arrives in tandem with a video for "High In The Circle K", a standout track to be lifted from the new album. The song features bombastic grooves, and wiry, spindly guitar lines delivered over a bed of often monotone vocal delivery, segueing into a cathartic, 2-minute climax of hypnotic guitar work. Speaking about the track, Dane Jarvie of the band says: "The album's namesake comes from one of the repeated lines/mantras in this song: “Fifths, thirds, octaves only” — almost as an appeal for a sort of utopian ideal. A dumb simplification. A desirable reduction."
5-3-8 – titled as a reference to the lyrical refrain that appears at a few points of the album of “fifths, thirds, octaves only” – was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas and Highland Recording Studio in Phoenix, Arizona; it was produced by Tony Brant and Sonny Di Perri (Protomartyr, DIIV, Nine Inch Nails, Animal Collective, Emma Ruth Rundle, Dirty Projectors) before being mastered at Elysian Sound by Dave Cooley.
Dendrons hit the road before they even knew exactly where they were headed. On New Year’s Day 2018, Dane Jarvie and Zak Sprenger first convened in Chicago to start a new project, recording a demo at home by the seat of their pants, and almost immediately after, began to play shows. “I would just email as many people as possible,” says Jarvie. “I’m like, ‘Can we open this?’ It didn’t matter if it was in Dallas or New Orleans or Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was like, let’s go.”
With a band name chosen by flipping through books in the library (“Dendron” is Greek for “tree”) and a sound and lineup in healthy evolution as they bounced around North America, Dendrons were finding who they were in front of a live audience. Over the course of 2018 and 2019, they were developing a propulsive, acerbic rock style both reminiscent of midwestern peers like Deeper and Dehd and reaching beyond to develop an unmistakable aura all their own. They put out their debut, 2020’s Dendrons, and were packing their bags for a full European tour before it had to be abruptly canceled when borders closed and venues shut down around the world. Suddenly, a band that cut their teeth on the road had to get comfortable staying at home.
“It was out of necessity,” says Jarvie, who started brainstorming ideas for a new album back at his family’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, just after the pandemic took hold. When he returned to Chicago a few months later, the full band of Jarvie (vocals/guitar/synth), Sprenger (synth/guitar), Matt Kase (bass/synth/vocals), John MacEachen (guitar/samples), Nick Togliatti (drums), and Stef Roti (drums) formed a bubble to get together and work out what would prove to be their highly ambitious and meticulously crafted second album, 5-3-8. “It was just like, well, we can’t tour, we can’t do anything,” Jarvie remembers. “So we might as well just stick together and really create something.”
Meeting three or four times a week, and ultimately rehearsing almost 40 song ideas, Dendrons began to methodically whittle down the batch to a set of songs that weaved through one another intricately, with lyrical and musical motifs dancing around a swirling rock arrangement. Taken on their own, tracks like “Vain Repeating” and “Octaves Only” tap into the manic energy and wit of bands like Wire and Stereolab—but in the context of the album’s full vision, they come together to paint an album informed by the post-truth spectacle, and a desire for optimism in the face of isolation.
The lyrics paint those emotions with subtlety, having been put together partially through a cut-up method, grabbing words and phrases from places such as CNN and CSPAN. “That was a real intention with this record was to try different techniques in terms of how words are coming together—stringing together sentences through collage,” Jarvie explains. On “New Outlook 1,” he sings in his direct, almost Stephen Malkmus-like style: “Soon we’ll be stooped over laughing / Watching ourselves high on a vision.”
“You’re always gonna leave a record feeling like there is something more to be said,” Jarvie says. “I don’t believe in a magnum opus. Art is contextual and exists for the specific time and circumstance it was created in. Every record is a conversation with the last.”