- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 16, 2003

In the week leading up to Christmas, it’s hard not to have sugarplum dreams from the never-ending chorus of “Jingle Bell Rock” playing everywhere one goes. Thankfully, rock fans who need a little break from the yuletide music can catch several rising local acts this week.

Lloyd Dobler Effect isn’t a newfangled weather gadget, but an unsigned Silver Spring five-piece band that will more than likely have a record deal by the end of the new year. The band plays Saturday at Whitlow’s On Wilson in Arlington.

Just don’t make the mistake of calling lead singer and guitarist Phil Kominski “Lloyd” at the show.

“I get it all the time,” explains Mr. Kominski via cell phone, on his way back to Maryland from a meeting with a record label. “Everybody thinks I’m Lloyd Dobler.”

For those not familiar with the name, Lloyd Dobler is the lovelorn character John Cusack played in Cameron Crowe’s popular film “Say Anything.” The name Dobler sounded so close to the weather-related term “Doppler effect” that the band decided to add the word “effect” to its name for the humor.

The band’s reputation has grown such that Mr. Crowe has a link to the band’s Web page from his own site. Though the group has had its current lineup for only two years, those years have been busy ones for the young outfit, all of whom are in their early 20s.

Lloyd Dobler Effect was born at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, where Mr. Kominski and drummer Donnie Williams went to school together. Throughout his high school years, Mr. Kominski played in various bands with different friends.

Explaining how each member came to join, he usually begins by saying, “We started jamming together…” Members came and went over the years until the lineup jelled into its current form, which also features Javi Godinez (violin), Rod Godinez (bass) and Rusty Williams (percussion/vocals).

Initially, playing music was all in good fun.

“I would use it as a form of therapy,” Mr. Kominski says. “It started getting pretty serious really fast.”

He switched colleges from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington back to the University of Maryland at College Park. Thinking ahead, he specialized his business major so that it focused on the music industry, giving him some valuable internships at record labels.

“I’ve learned a lot that’s been able to help the band,” he says.

In the meantime, the group began playing more and more and traveling outside the area. At one point, they were booked for shows almost every night some months.

What really marked the turning point, though, was the 2002 WHFStival concert and its local battle of the bands. Their win allowed them the chance to open before thousands of rock fans on the festival’s main stage at RFK Stadium.

“We were really inexperienced before that,” Mr. Kominski says. “We never played in front of more than 50 people at one place.”

From there, things snowballed. The band got a better booking agency, was able to devote their lives full time to music and started getting calls from record labels. Several meetings since then have convinced the group that there are labels they might be glad to call home.

Since forming, the band has been able to add a full-time sound crew and buy better equipment, though money is rarely ever pouring in for any local band.

“We love to do it,” Mr. Kominski says. “It’s not a money thing.”

They have been working with producer Gary Katz, of Steely Dan fame, on several songs and he has helped the group shop the tracks around. In January, they will again head into the studio, which means that this week’s gig at Whitlow’s could be the last time area fans see the band for several months.

As for its sound, the group likes to use a phrase called “collage rock,” not to be mixed up with the more common phrase “college rock.” It means that the group’s pop-influenced rock songs also can move to a Latin beat or use a go-go rhythm. Nothing is really out of bounds.

Mr. Kominski’s goals in the next few months are many — record a new album, tour outside the area (maybe even outside the country), tighten the live show and decide on a record label.

“I think we’ve made long-term goals into six-month goals,” he says.

• • •

The Washington Social Club might sound like a members-only organization, but it’s actually the name of an amazing young trio that’s been gaining a steady fan base in and out of the District.

The group plays the Black Cat downtown tomorrow night, and it’s well worth marking down the date on the calendar. Most every review of a Washington Social Club show features the phrase “the club was packed” so this show should be no exception.

Just take a listen on the band’s Web site at washingtonsocialclub.com, and it’s easy to understand why. The group’s sound is straight-ahead, no-nonsense rock, the kind that makes even non-dancers start to move around at shows.

For just $7, it’s hard to go wrong. There will be plenty of time for “Jingle Bell Rock” next week.

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