Not many bands can claim to have origins in grade school, but in one incarnation or another, some members of The Dig have played music together since they were ten years old.
In Westchester County – just a stone’s throw from New York City, where they now call home – singer/guitarist David Baldwin and singer/bassist Emile Mosseri first met in sixth grade, becoming fast friends and playing in bands. Baldwin and Mosseri met keyboardist/guitarist Erick Eiser at a summer music program in high school, and the three reunited in college in Boston. In 2007, all three relocated to New York City and began writing songs in Baldwin’s basement as The Dig. The relentless, hard-working young band dug their foundation the old-fashioned way: they embraced an indefatigable DIY ethic, playing all over the city regularly and hitting the streets with an endless stream of posters, flyers, and free music. The band released their debut EP Good Luck and Games (produced by Bryce Goggin, who has produced, mixed, or engineered Pavement, Antony & the Johnsons, The Ramones, Bishop Allen) late that year, catching the attention of Popmatters, who wrote in a review, “This is the catchiest, most intriguing power pop band to emerge out of the no-name pile in some time…”
The Dig’s self-booked shows and self-promotion began to pay off by late spring 2008, when the band was booked for three, month-long residencies through the summer at Piano’s in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. With a strong and ever-growing fanbase, late that year esteemed local venues like the Bowery Ballroom and the Music Hall of Williamsburg began to call upon the band consistently to open for national touring bands such as Mission of Burma, The Soft Pack, The Rakes, Longwave, and Rural Alberta Advantage, shows that earned The Dig praise from local blogs such as Music Snobbery: “I have no witty observations or creative writing pull quotes to give you. They are just a damn good band.”
Never resting and looking to expand their base past hometown confines, The Dig began touring in the northeast and southeast in early 2009. Touring over the next six months, the band was profiled in major dailies and weeklies – like the DC Examiner, The Washington Times, The Winston-Salem Journal, and The Asheville Citizen-Times. New drummer Jamie Alegre, a Toronto ex-pat from a family of musicians, joined the band in-between tours in April. Alegre, who moved to NYC four years earlier to pursue a life in music, had gotten to know them through playing the same LES haunts with other bands. With his previous band having just gone on hiatus when The Dig’s first drummer departed, he landed as a perfect fit.
The Dig’s continual touring and dynamic live show caught the attention of noted booking agent Kevin French at the Paradigm Agency, who quickly signed the band in June 2009. Around the same time, the band headed into Brooklyn’s Trout Recording with returning co-producer Goggin to record their full-length debut, Electric Toys. With the album, The Dig has crafted 12 rock songs of various shapes, sizes, and moods, linked by the band’s indelible hooks. Written and arranged by all four members, the songs often tell a story: darkish tales with twisted circumstances and desperate people driven to do bad things. Alternately, there are classical references to girls, love, and the many points in-between. Mosseri and Baldwin alternate lead vocals throughout the album; Mosseri’s soaring, roguish tenor takes lead on the poppier tracks, while Baldwin’s raspy, weathered croon holds court on the guitar-heavy, wall-rattling anthems. Differing in sound, their voices retain a stylistic similarity won by playing, singing, and writing together for the past 14 years.
This similarity grants Electric Toys a seamless flow from track to track, striking a perfect equilibrium between upbeat and moody rockers. The unaccompanied chords of Eiser’s keyboard launch the alternately wistful and roaring album opener “Carry Me Home,” introducing essential atmospherics that, along with his rhythm guitar parts, in many ways help shape the sound of both the album and the band with additional layers of depth and color. Like that first song, the humming, hypnotic “Two Sisters” and the ominous, hot-blooded “She’s Going to Kill That Boy” build to explosive climaxes. In contrast, the jaunty, hand-clapping “You’re Already Gone” and the spry, ebullient beat of “Penitentiary” highlight the band’s strong pop instincts. “For All Your Sins” and “Feel Like Somebody Else,” meanwhile, are dreamy, string-laced ballads. Mosseri and Alegre’s intertwining rhythm section propels each track, while Baldwin’s deft guitar work ranges from a lilt to a shimmer to a howl across the album.