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Hot 20 2009: The Dodos

Photograhpy by Anön.

Watching the Dodos multitask onstage is enough to make you sweat. “We love having to accomplish so much with so little,” says guitarist-vocalist Meric Long. If we’re not physically putting out, then I feel like we’re not really playing.” Long always intended to start a band, but performed solo until the right person came along. “I had a clear idea of what I wanted—a drummer who was willing to play a bit unconventionally.” When Logan Kroeber entered the picture in 2005, the Dodos were born.

Forget the avant-garde experimentation of other psych-folk bands—this group’s shtick is their unique past-meets-future approach. Long fingerpicks the guitar in the style of John Fahey. Kroeber doesn’t use a bass drum, plays on the rims and tapes a tambourine to his shoe. Keaton Snyder (who joined this year) adds a touch of jazz with the vibraphone. They avoid synthesizers and lead with guitar, layering drumbeats over the top.

Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, both here and elsewhere. Under the Radar magazine named the group’s Visiter the third best album of 2008, and Pitchfork Media readers elected the Dodos as the second best new act on the scene; they’ve garnered rave reviews from Spin as well.

Just released in September, their latest effort, Time to Die (produced by indie rock’s go-to guy Phil Ek—of Fleet Foxes, the Shins and Modest Mouse) is song-based, thoughtful and balanced. The title is a tongue-in-cheek statement about the pressures of following up a breakthrough album, proving that the band possesses yet another essential ingredient for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle: a sense of humor.

Stylist: Rachel Lena Esterline. Styling assistance: Sonie Hack. On Meric: Rick Owens Intarsia leather jacket ($2,450), Nice Collective cotton tee ($95) and Balmain black jean ($875), all at the Archive, 415-391-5550. Leather boots, Model’s own. On Keaton: Rick Owens samurai hooded wool coat ($2,500), Nice Collective cotton shirt ($105) and Decon cap ($110), Notify black jean ($260) and Marsell boots ($820), all at the Archive. On Logan: Shellac cotton-wool blend coat ($1,350), Nice Collective steam-stripe shirt ($105) and DRK SHDW Detroit jean ($475), all at the Archive. DVS shoes, model’s own.

Check out the other 2009 Hot 20.