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Album Review

Andy Ross will probably forever be known in pop culture circles as one of the guys dancing on treadmills as part of OK Go, but his solo work as Secret Dakota Ring — he writes pretty much everything, but producer/drummer Travis Harrison is a near-regular constant as well, among other guest musicians — shows that he has interests beyond peppy power pop — namely, peppy and winsome psych-in-a-sweetly-mushy way pop. (Though to be fair Cantarell's "Sell Us a Spaceship" cranks up a feedback-off-to-the-stars feeling that Billy Corgan once made his own.) Ross's second album under that name is the kind of intentionally fragile thing that isn't trying to be anything else — it's a vision of rock & roll that begins with the Left Banke and the late Zombies, with a heavy dollop of Sean O'Hagan's string arrangements for the High Llamas and elsewhere. The resultant mix, like that of so many similar projects worldwide, is simply too in hock to its multiple forebears to be anything more than a gentle diversion — Ross's calm but engaged voice and his ear for a gentle romp in the arrangements, as with "The Fade to Black," are his best gifts more than a striking way around songwriting and lyrics. Strings coast along, horns add further exultance (the conclusion to "Losing Eyeballs" is a highlight there), and the whole is so pleasant it almost feels churlish to say that it's mostly an understandable indulgence more than anything else. Still, there it is — and credit to a good song title in "I Blew Myself Up Over You."


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

In 2002, guitarist, bassist, and songwriter Andy Ross was a member of the indie rock band Cold Memory, only to see them break up after a tour in support of their album Damage/No Damage. Out of sorts, Ross began spending time with Travis Harrison, a friend from his college days, and with Harrison's encouragement Ross began writing a batch of new songs. Ross and Harrison decided to start a record label, Serious Business Records, and Ross' solo project became one of their first releases. By the time...
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Cantarell, Secret Dakota Ring
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