Indie rock has been having a kind of lull lately. There are certainly some highlights in the genre but overall it seems that there is a vacuum to be filled. That’s why we should all listen to Amen Dunes. The group formed in 2006 by Damon McMahon out of the ashes of Inouk in NYC and is coming out with the new record Freedom on March 30th.
It’s hard to nail down Amen Dunes exactly. I think the best way to do it would be to say that if Kurt Vile started singing for Tame Impala and they decided to lean into more dream pop, that would be fairly accurate. Amen Dunes makes this very dreamy sort of psychedelic rock. In the tracks they have released for the album so far, the music is very sparse and has a lot of space in it. It doesn’t lay into the wall of sound style of Tame Impala but instead relies on the space to allow McMahon’s vocals to cut through.
The most recent track released, “Believe,” shows off their unique style. It begins with a clean guitar completely awash in reverb, allowing the instrument to ride solo and providing plenty of space while also being a big enough sound to lay something on top of its base. McMahon follows in with his slacker-style singing while another jangling guitar lightly strumming higher register chords. Before you realize it, there’s actually a full band playing. You’re completely unaware of it since all of it is subtle enough that none of it really stands out and is all contributing to the song.
Amen Dunes also plays a lot with synthesizers and plays up the dream pop/psychedelic rock. “Blue Rose” sounds a lot like a subtle 80s style pop song albeit fairly downplayed. There is a very distinct 80s kind of droning synthesizer that the song builds off of as opposed to the subtle riffing chords of “Believe”. The percussion consists of a simple drumbeat played with brushes and a tambourine driving the song. Subtlety is Amen Dunes’ forte and helps to play up the dreamy and spacey portions of all their songs.
Personally, this is right in my wheelhouse. I love dream pop and indie rock especially on the rare occasions when they’re put together. Amen Dunes does enough guitar-based work to balance out the synth driven songs and hits that happy medium very nicely. The songs feel like they came from a modern version of The Breakfast Club soundtrack and it’s just the kind of thing you need in your life. Listen to it.