Boulder resident and eclectic musician Eric Dorr has recently released his debut EP, Dream Routine. Dorr moved to Boulder five years ago with his close friend and collaborator Sawyer Bernath after studying music at Temple University in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bernath produced Dorr's polished EP and much of it was recorded in apartments throughout the city of Boulder.
Dorr began playing music in high school band, the trumpet specifically, and that early inspiration definitely weaves into his EP with horns cropping up in many of the tracks. The tracks are quite surreal as the EP's title insinuates; the lyrics often connote dreams and consciousness as the tunes incorporate all sorts of sound, from keys, to overlays of whispers, echoing vocals, hazy instrumentals, horns, and even chimes. Many of the tracks reminded me of Dr. Dog; each song layers and builds while listeners can feel the emotion behind Dorr's vocals. Additionally, the EP's title works, because while every song reflects Dorr's musical interests and abilities experimenting with different sounds and various contrasts, the tracks have a similar formula or structure, like a routine. “Dream Routine” showcases Dorr's seamless ability to slip into and explore assorted sub-genres of indie rock.
The EP begins with "Kerosene." Sturdy guitars and ample percussion thicken the introduction, which is followed by a beat of silence. Then Dorr's vocals come in, reminiscent of Ben Gibbard's, accompanied by harmonies and instrumentals which steadily progress as the tune unfolds. The end of the song propels us into the album with a culminating build that crescendos as Dorr sings "headed off into an endless dream."
As you move through the EP, you get a taste of Dorr's musical curiosities and wanderlust. The second track, "Around Again," shifts gears, radiating poppy vibes, as it opens with sugary "ooo's" and "ahhh's" that thread throughout the tune. The song builds, similarly to "Kerosene" and the forthcoming tracks, ending distinctively with a couple of verses from the tune sung in a more rustic, faded way, as if we are listening through a wall. It almost feels as though we are crossing time, getting a look into what the first pass of the tune sounded like before it went "around and around" through edits as Dorr added to it.
Listen to Dream Routine:
"Leaves," the fourth track on the record, also emphasizes Dorr's ability to explore a more pop-indie-rock genre. This catchy, quick tune highlights the whimsical, reverberating keyboard as swift drum beats keep the track moving forward. Dorr's vocals, accompanied by the keys, reminded me of Keane. The lyrics compliment the contemplative themes laced throughout the EP with poetic verses like, "So familiar/Just like a dream… Countin' all the leaves/in the land of a thousand trees/reachin' up your sleeve/for all that use to be." "Leaves" uses lyrics and musical experimentation to navigate themes of dreams and memory as sounds swell and drift away over and over.
Later we hear "The Loss," possibly the tune that ties all of Dorr's musical directions together. The track starts out swaying slowly and moves forward into a catchy refrain echoing the introspective theme of the tune. The backup vocals and Dorr croon, "It won't let go, let go, let go/It won't let go of me/I can't let go/It won't let go of me." Captivating, experimental, and slightly electronic keys interpose between the refrain and verses, and launch forth after the second verse. Everything begins to evolve and grow as the lyrics "a quarter short of a diamond hand" repeat. This song reminded me of something that could be on Dr. Dog's album Fate. "The Loss," surveys a plethora of sounds and instruments within the span of five minutes, from echoing vocals, interesting drums and cymbals, and groovy keys. Though this tune starts out slow, momentum surges as Dorr layers on different resonances that you might not expect to blend, but they do, making the track super stimulating and perhaps my favorite of all.
Dorr has laid it all out on his short EP. He showcases his ability to slip into the many corners of indie music, and he is not afraid to take on diverse sounds, instruments, and styles. Dorr said in a recent interview regarding his EP that he, "wants to have a few different styles to catch someone’s ear. [My] goal for the next project will definitely be to see how this next couple of months go, how the EP is received… and push in a more specific direction." Though "Dream Routine" navigates all sorts of musical sounds and directions, the consistent builds and structure of each track, along with the introspective thematic content tie the tunes together. See for yourself as Dorr continues to tour and perform tracks from this EP. His next show is Saturday, December 16th at Hunter Bay Coffee Roasters in Arvada.
Keep up with Eric Dorr here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.