I found Ronnie Dobbs in a rather circumscribe way. I saw singer/guitarist Jacob Cambell’s other band, the unsustainably combustible Whoovez play a set and wanted a CD. But seeing as none yet existed, they directed me toward a tape of Jacob's other band, Ronnie Dobbs. And now I’m hooked on Ronnie Dobbs’ refreshingly titled EP, Everyone is Not Attractive, and I wish I could call it better than unique, because every band worth their emo salt thinks such of themselves.
Ronnie Dobbs are unique foremost in their delivery because they treat emotion much like a microphone treats sonic clipping: you only notice it when it happens, and when it happens it is by its nature unsettling and undermining and in excess. That is the delivery of the vocals in a nutshell, an ethic that lets them shout “like hail in the summer, it’s a huge fucking bummer.” You can lift that line into anything from an Iggy song to some reverb heavy beach punk demo, but it really only belongs to the bands that don’t believe it, bands like Ronnie Dobbs. They don’t believe it fully enough, so they shout it. They're saying just as much at the end of Bong Iver, when someone shouts with an indulgent outrage “they think they're Ronnie fucking Dobbs!”
A side note: That “bummer” puts Ronnie Dobbs on the list for “Best ‘Bummer’ in Recent Rock History,” right next to this one.
Now set down next to their emotion ambitious yet successful arrangements, and you’ll see why Not Everyone is Attractive is so damn gorgeous. You'll see it on “Uggo Batman” when there is a guitar-versus-organ race upwards to something. Molly Spear’s keys play an important part on the EP and brings it astride to prog-comparison. We all know emo likes to be linear, but when such volta-driven (pun not intended) songs decide to include challenging xylophone passages and virtuosic bass playing, destination prog seems inevitable. But again, Ronnie “Fucking” Dobbs save the day by turning and laughing at their own drastically convulsive song structure. After a pregnant pause, they shout “...But then..you’re dead!” and it has the impulsiveness of a curtailed end to a campfire tale.
I’m missing something. Oh yeah, the EP features extended selections from "Peter Pan" being read aloud. Selections like “We suddenly realize we have been deaf in one ear” at the beginning to “Lights by Single Wing Turquoise Bird,” and somehow these passages work, whereas you wouldn’t ever believe as much if I told you, much like I am doing now. I think it works because "Peter Pan" is one of those books that is as playful as its blades are sharp. Magic is present, yes, but so is death, loss and change. And I think that balance is what Ronnie Dobbs are all about.
2. Uggo Batman Val-Kill-Me
3. Zach Bukowski's Spirit Animal is Neil Peart
4. Bong Iver
5. Lights by Single Wing Turquoise Bird