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Duplomacy (Wednesday, February 16th, 2005, Turf Club, St. Paul)
Duplomacy - Publicity Photo


By Cyn Collins

I caught a preview of Minneapolis band Duplomacy at the Turf Club on February 6 when the band’s guitarists Andy Flynn and Adam Egerdahl had played together at “Old Stage” on that particular Sunday night. At the time I had been intrigued by their compelling vocals and lyricism. At first listen, they reminded me a little of Dan Wilson of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic.

At the Turf ten days later, the band was back as their full 4 piece incarnation: Flynn on guitar/vocals, Egerdahl on guitar, Eric Dahl on bass, and Judd Hildreth on drums and comedy.

Duplomacy plays with a rare calm and slow beauty that I have not heard for a long time from a local band, and I was immediately delighted by the understated vocals and drums. The simplicity of Judd Hildreth’s drumming stands out as refreshingly unpretentious. Until I’d heard Hildreth (who also drums for Valet) I hadn’t realized how much I missed such a direct and simple approach to percussion. Hildreth later told me one of his main percussive inspirations is Phil Rudd of AC/DC. While at first I couldn’t fathom it, as Duplomacy is a million miles away from that classic hard rock band, I clicked the AC/DC songfiles on the MP3 player in my head and could definitely hear the same simplicity entwined with voracious intent.

The members of Duplomacy play off of each other in an almost orchestral way. The song layering and transitions are reminiscent of the Beatle’s. The melancholic songs shimmered as Flynn sang bedtime stories to us with a warm and at times quavering voice that floated on dreamlike drum fuzz and sweet melodies. Pauses created anticipation.

The simplicity and honest emotiveness of the songs made me purr “sweet,” “wow,” and “beautiful” far more than I’ve heard myself do in a while. My table-mates did the same. It was not saccharine, however; just stunningly beautiful, the type of music that nearly draws tears to your eyes with its poignancy, vulnerability and intimacy.

Third song “Stroll” was heart-wrenchingly slow with a shimmering drum . . . by this time I realized I was soaking up the sonic pleasure like earth that had been dry for too long. The audience enrapt, hardly a soul talked as Duplomacy played songs such as “Untitled,” a favorite of mine, “Suicide,” “Stay Up Late” (which we all happily did) and another very favorite of mine, “The Stars Are Free.”

While sounding very different, Duplomacy’s songs do have a similar dreamlike introspective beauty to some of REM’s earliest work. And their use of minor keys always gets me.

2024 Records announces that Duplomacy will release a new CD early this year, and I’m definitely looking forward to that.

You can see Duplomacy March 11 at Station 4 with Vox Vermillion and Ela, and March 31 at V’s with Maps of Norway and the Deaf. You can stream all 5 songs off their debut EP on their website at http://www.duplomacy.com.

Cyn Collins is at cyn.collins[at]howwastheshow.com