Dakota Theim: 'Better Unsaid' [Video Premiere]

Vortex Music Magazine

The Portland singer-songwriter quietly released his debut LP—10 tracks of indelible pop songs that feel like they'd sound right at home coming out of a '60s jukebox—at the beginning of the year. If you didn't give it a spin the first time around, spring seems like the perfect season for Dakota Theim's upbeat, timeless tunes.

Would it be outlandish to say Dakota Theim is bigger than The Beatles? Yes, yes it would. But his debut record Somewhere Under the Sun is full of catchy, bouncing Beatlesque tunes.

Now I know, comparing a new artist to The Beatles is like when that new band on the scene says they sound like Radiohead. We get it, you’re inspired by Radiohead but it’s very unlikely that you actually sound like Radiohead.

For Dakota Theim, he seems to be inspired by the pre-Revolver catalog, dodging super trippy, psychedelic rabbit holes in favor of easily relatable songs with crisp harmonies that are ripe for singalongs. The 10 tracks feel so simple, but that’s because they’ve been so perfectly crafted. And maybe that’s what makes Somewhere Under the Sun feel like a mid-'60s Beatles record.

Self-released in January, the piano-filled “Better Unsaid” is the record’s snappily melodic opening track.

“I wrote ‘Better Unsaid’ during a time when I was feeling pretty uncertain about myself and my future,” Theim reveals. “It’s kind of about a lot of different things, basically just where I was at [in] my life when I wrote it. But really, I just wanted to try and write a catchy pop song.”

Which is exactly what he did.

“‘Better Unsaid’ was recorded at Yonder Studios with Jason Ehrlich and TJ Smith. Jason played drums and TJ played guitar on that one. The rest of the record was recorded at my house and my guitar player Ben’s [Bilotti] house. I would lay the foundation down for each song at my house (bass, drums, acoustic guitar) and we would record lead guitar and piano at his house. Then I’d do the vocals back at my house. Alex Werner, who plays bass in our band, recorded bass for the final song on the record ‘Don’t Forget To Love Me (When You’re Gone).’ It was definitely a learning process for us—none of us have really ever recorded an album ourselves before. It was mixed by Mike Coykendall and mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk [of Stereophonic Mastering], both here in Portland. They were awesome to work with.”

As if the original recording wasn’t enough, thankfully Theim and band returned to Yonder Studios and laid down a live version of “Better Unsaid” to quench our contemporary thirst for more content. Joseph Criscola and Alex Moan of Black Bulb Creative shot the video with some help from Jeff Janoff.

“Things are pretty uncertain for us right now—we don’t have any shows planned for the near future but I have been spending a lot of time writing new songs!” Theim tells. “We’ve been talking about doing some live streams but have no plans at the moment.”

Until that happens, you can enjoy Dakota Theim and band live from Yonder Studios below!

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