Friday, May 11, 2007

Reviews:: Dog Day - Night Group

As loyal readers of the hill know by now, I regularly scour the land looking for new Halifax music to talk about on this here site. Of course, when I say scour the land, I mean read The Coast, but still, that's hard work. So when we get sent an album from a Halifax band via an outside source, it's a nice surprise. Halifax's Dog Day, and their debut Night Group, is a fine example of just such a surprise.

I suppose the external buzz Dog Day is receiving is due in part to the fact they're signed to German label Tomlab (Black Mountain Music in Canada). Tomlab's roster leans heavily towards electronic or experimental music (Final Fantasy, Deerhoff, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, etc.), so the fact that they were interested in signing Dog Day, a band that makes early 90s-ish, melodic pop songs, has to say something. What does it say exactly? Not sure, perhaps it says that the Germans are jonsing for piece of the new Halifax music scene like Freddie Holburn was jonsing for a dip. Perhaps I just wanted to work Freddie Holburn into this review, but either way, Tomlab liked the cut of Dog Day's jib, and I can see why.

Dog Day is a four piece which is actually comprised of two couples. Keyboardist Crystal Thili and drummer KC Spidle are married, while guitarist Seth Smith and bassist(?) Nancy Urich live together. In both cases, it's not the first time the couples have played with their respective partners. Smith and Urich are members of Halifax indie mainstays The Burdocks, whereas Spidle and Thili are members of Halifax hardcore outfit The Hold. This whole couple dynamic might have some kind of impact on Dog Day's music, but listening to the album, it's hard to discern what it could be. Perhaps it just adds a level of comfort when they're playing together, as the band certainly meshes well musically, no one sound overpowers the rest.

I suppose technically you'd say Dog Day are a "guitar" band, but for me it's the bass & drums that propell this album along. The album moves at a brisk pace From start to finish, with Smith's guitar, more often than not, acting as a jangly accompaniment to the rhythms laid down by Urich and Spidle. Songs like End Of The World and Know Who You Are are prime examples of this. Thili's keyboards adds a welcome, lighter touch to songs like Great Pains that would otherwise be all melancholy business. Gayhorse isn't really an example of any particular point I'm trying to make, but I do like the sweet boy-girl trade off vocals. Acutally I just wanted to mention the song because the title is Gayhorse, and that makes my inner grade 7 laugh.

Speaking of the vocals, I suppose if anyone where to have a beef with this album, it would be on the vocal tip. Smith's vocals are very low-key throughout the album - both because they seemed to be purposely mixed low so they kind of blend into the song and also because he sings in kind of straight-ahead monotone way throughout the album. I think because of this, the lyrical content doesn't stick out on each song, and the tracks tend to blend together. I'll admit that even after listening to the album a few times, I don't have any clear idea of what each song is about. I will also freely admit that I don't care. The songs on Night Group are dead catchy, with melodic, sing-along choruses, and that is enough for me.

The press around this album is filled with comparisons to 90's heavyweights like Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, Yo La Tengo, and Sonic Youth - and musically, I think I can see where that comes from. When you consider all the 90's talk in this review, it's rather impressive that I've gotten this far without comparing Dog Day to Sloan, but now that I stop to think about it, there are some songs here I could compare to Smeared or Twice Removed, but I shall digress. Living up to all those comparisons is a tall order and it's probably better to consider Night Group on it's own merits as catchy pop album that will more than likely work it's way into your rotation once you hear it. Definitely worth a listen.

mp3:: Oh Dead Life

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Posted at 9:55 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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