Nickel Creek
A Dotted Line


4.5
superb

Review

by thecolorbrown USER (17 Reviews)
March 25th, 2014 | 13 replies


Release Date: 04/01/2014 | Tracklist


They were prodigies in their tweens, and they caught the 90’s music world with a storm that wasn’t seen by any radar. With each subsequent album put out in the 2000s, they pushed boundaries and broke down walls – they could never fit into any one category. With their traditional bluegrass instrumentation and their inner punk-rock sensibilities, they were the most endearing and enticing wolves in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps above all, they made it possible to head bang to a mandolin solo, and for that we will always be humbled in the presence of Chris Thile and the Watkins siblings. After three ambitious, innovative, and flawless records, their indefinite hiatus in 2006 led to successful side projects for each member, as well as the credibility for each respective member to collaborate with a variety of artists such as Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman, John Mayer, Jackson Brown, and even Yo Yo Ma. And now, 8 long years later, the rumors were found to be true, and the members of Nickel Creek reunited in the studio, teaming up with Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind, Queens of the Stone Age, Good Charlotte) to create their fourth studio album, the long-awaited and highly anticipated A Dotted Line.

Nickel Creek’s first three albums could easily be categorized: the self-titled was the most traditionally folk/bluegrass, This Side had the most pop-sensibilities, and Why Should the Fire Die (also produced by Valentine) was in many ways a rock album with a bluegrass outfit. True to its name, the band’s new record effectively connects the dots and brings all of their tricks out their sleeve. Not surprisingly, the backbone of this album is the combination of Mandolin, Violin, Acoustic Guitar, and String Bass to lay out a canvas of bluegrass which is never absent. But from there, each song goes in a different direction. From the traditional country-folk (“21st of May”) to the aggressive rock-infused tunes (“You Don’t Know What’s Going On”), the quintessential dynamic power-ballads (“Love of Mine”), and instrumental rollercoaster rides (“Elephant in the Corn”); Nickel Creek has managed to bring the unique qualities of each of the former albums and paint them into one portrait.

The result is an exciting and surprising journey into the eclectic heart of the band, as each song twists and turns in its own path, all the while staying true to its identity as Nickel Creek. Even when delving into new territories, such as the experimental cover of Mother Mother's “Hayloft”, which is part pop, part hip-hop, part punk, part western, the band still retains its familiar ambition and unorthodox charm. But the songs that work best are the ones fans will feel like they’ve heard before; the powerfully dynamic tunes that wouldn’t fall short of anthemic status, and have not been absent on any Nickel Creek album, stand prominently on A Dotted Line. Opening track, “Rest of My Life” starts things with a layered explosion, as Thile sings “It’s one of those endings when no one claps / ‘Cause they’re sure that there’s more / What a great way to start the first day of the rest of my life.” With its soaring vocal harmonies and controlled dynamic crescendos and decrescendos, the song stands as a powerful way to start the album, moving right into the album’s first single, “Destination”, which builds off an enchanting riff that leads into one of the strongest choruses in the band’s career, that wouldn’t have been out of place on Why Should The Fire Die. Right at the heart of the record, another single and stand-out track, “Love of Mine”, is a love song written to a child who will be leaving with its mother after a break-up – the unique perspective coalesces with the complexity of the music, which fights between calm and calamity, materializing as one of climactic moments on the album.

It would be wrong to say that there is nothing new on this record, but it suffices to say that the strongest moments on A Dotted Lines are the ones that bring familiar elements of Nickel Creek’s history to the table, using old colors for a new illustration. Ultimately, A Dotted Line is a reunion more than it is a step forward – Nickel Creek knows who they are better than they ever have before, and thankfully they have used that to their advantage.



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user ratings (14)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
thecolorbrown
March 25th 2014


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is streaming here: http://www.npr.org/2014/03/23/291138709/first-listen-nickel-creek-a-dotted-
line

You can preorder the album and get 3 tracks here: https://www.itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-dotted-
line/id821289794

Philalethes
March 26th 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you for reviewing this! How this band and Chris Thile's other the band, the punch brothers gets so little recognition on this website baffles me. Thile is one of the greatest musicians of our time. His musical abilities are so good, that it's hard for me not to see him as a modern day Mozart. Check this YouTube video of his song "too many notes" for a good example:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNPbm-msjZw



Philalethes
March 27th 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Finally got to listen to the record and it is nothing short of amazing. After an 8 year hiatus, the expectations were extremely high, and yet this amazingly talented group of musicians didn't falter for one minute.

My question to the Sputnik community is how can a site that clearly is devoted to judging music solely on the merits of its quality of sound, and not what massive media outlets tell you what you should like, have completely overlooked one of the greatest musical acts in existence?

I challenge all staff, contributors, and users to listen to this record and try and find a reason not to like it. Try and find a reason why the musicianship found on this record is nothing short of amazing. In my opinion there just aren't many groups that make music on a level as this group does - one where the music is challenging and virtuosic, yet still very catchy; being realized within the lens of popular music structures.

Keyblade
March 27th 2014


14987 Comments


Oh wow, it's finally out. Been waiting for this omg

Digging: Submotion Orchestra - Alium

Philalethes
March 27th 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

BTW, great review. I like the summary of their history, which lead to a very good frame of reference from which this album was born out of. I am very glad that within this record we find songs that are very reminiscent of past albums; songs that sound like they belong on any of their past albums, and yet there are many new surprises.

Philalethes
March 27th 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Or check out Thile playing Bach:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKU9pWWO-cA

Someday the genera population will hopefully realize the genius that Thile truly is.

thecolorbrown
March 30th 2014


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I agree. I honestly didn't know anything about this band until I listened to fiction family (being a huge switchfoot fan) and did research on Sean Watkins' old band. I was so shocked at how the world didn't make a bigger deal about this group. They should be HUGE.

Philalethes
April 1st 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The thing is they are pretty big, just not on music sites that are made up of a primarily younger audience. Their first record was platinum and their second record was gold. Most of their shows are sold out on their current tour.

I just find it interesting that this music doesn't appeal to the Sputnik user base. I have a feeling it's because of the bluegrass stigma their music so often gets. It's too bad, because this group is one of those special bands, that we are lucky enough that they even exist and decided to make a new record.

Philalethes
April 1st 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I would think that Thile especially would appeal to some of the more technical guitar fans. I just don't know of another musician in existence that can "riff" or "shred" like he does, while still writing the most musical and lyrical passages. He truly is a modern Bach or Mozart type of musician.

thecolorbrown
April 6th 2014


72 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As incredible as he is, and though he is definitely the most talented in the group, we totally underestimate the watkins siblings too

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXhHcOx3stY

Philalethes
April 7th 2014


245 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That song an "Robin and Marian" are probably my two favorite instrumental tracks from these guys. I agree that when compared to Thile, the Watkins siblings are definitely underrated. They are both amazing musicians in their own right. I love how Sarah's voice has matured on this new record, and Sean's guitar playing ability has only become more amazing then it already was.

The great thing about this band is they grew up playing music with each other. In listening to their music you can tell how much they influenced each other, and how effortlessly they can communicate musically with each other. I hope they continue to make records, because there just isn't another band like them.

renxo
June 19th 2014


73 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

AWESOME : )

Digging: Hail The Sun - Wake

yowsa52
July 16th 2014


9 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Classic. Superb.



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