The throwback R&B/soul/pop septet christens its second album, "The Dip Delivers," with two sold-out shows this weekend.
Even Tom Eddy was a little skeptical. While his band The Dip was methodically planning the rollout for the pop-tumbled R&B/soul troupe’s first album in four years, their booking agent suggested putting a hold for a second night at Neumos. You know, just in case they could fill the club twice.
“We’re like ‘OK. Sure buddy, whatever,’ ” says Eddy, relaxing in the band’s Central District studio.
Turns out the local septet had no trouble selling out both hometown shows, welcoming their sophomore album, “The Dip Delivers,” into the world with a weekend blowout (8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 15-16) at the Capitol Hill venue. It may have caught Eddy by surprise, but likely not anyone who saw their well-received set at the Capitol Hill Block Party last year — where Hill rats and young suburbanites alike basked in their steamy grooves under the sun.
Unlike the quick ascent of Eddy’s other band, Beat Connection — which also features Dip mates Jarred Katz (drums) and Mark Hunter (bass) — The Dip’s rise has been slow and steady over the past six years. Born out of the University of Washington jazz program, some of the guys initially connected to do something more accessible than their outré jazz pursuits, and the band came up playing brass-blasting house parties. While you hardly need a music degree to enjoy their amiable tunes, some of the members’ improvisational proclivities surface during their live sets, as on smoldering newbie “Spiderweb.”
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“That song has turned into this epic piece in the middle of the sets,” says baritone saxophonist Evan Smith. “We try to find opportunities to feature individual members of the band throughout the set, balance the amount of arrangement, consistency and improvisation.”
With the new album, The Dip was determined to take its time, moving into that Central District space and learning to record on analog. Unlike its first album, recorded in a short burst over a few days, the crew integrated the writing and recording process, lending a different perspective while refining its modernized amalgam of vintage R&B, soul, and classic pop and rock ‘n’ roll that should appeal to St. Paul & The Broken Bones fans.
Between the luxury of time and the learning curve of recording to tape that gave them new tricks the deeper they got, the band was better able to tweak their sound on a track-by-track basis. “We tailored the equipment and the process for each song, like ‘What’s the emotional feel of this? What are the historical references?’ ” Smith says.
Lyrically, Eddy wanted to push past the “baby, I love you kind of stuff” that dominated their self-titled debut, he says. Although there’s plenty of that, too — see “Adeline,” a doe-eyed slow-dance number that’d sound natural crackling over AM radio frequencies — Eddy tackles ubiquitous adverts on the sizzling “Advertising” (featuring Jimmy James and Delvon Lamarr) and warns of shadowy, nefarious power-wielders on the intoxicating “Spiderweb.” The single “She Gave Me the Keys” subverts an old narrative common among 1950s blues and R&B records that hasn’t aged as well as the music has.
“In a lot of rhythm-and-blues records from back in the day, there’s this misogynist sort of ‘Baby, I give you everything I got. I pay you every week, I bought you a car,’” Eddy says. “Just culturally, that was acceptable and prevalent back then. The music is so happening, you can’t deny the grooves and the players. But in today’s context, that’s kind of messed up, you know?”
Instead, the swinging track portrays a broke musician whose breadwinning girlfriend lets him drive her Cadillac for the first time. “It’s only 50 percent autobiographical,” jokes guitarist Jacob Lundgren.
Despite its members’ various other projects — including Beat Connection, Smith’s avant-garde jazz gigs and trumpeter Brennan Carter touring with ODESZA — the Dip looks to be the priority this year. Come late March, the guys leave for a national headlining tour, followed by small-font festival slots at BottleRock Napa Valley, Levitate and others. Their last time out, the band started playing to the occasional sold-out club and noticed more and more away fans singing along.
“It still surprises me,” says Smith of The Dip’s progress. “As somebody that comes from a world … I play a lot of music where if there’s more people in the audience than in the band, I’m pretty happy.”
One thing’s for sure, he’ll have a lot to be happy about this weekend.