Neil Mach

Author – Fantasy Realism

Do you remember the jazz-rock group “Ten Years After”? We used to listen over-and-over to their album  “Live at the Fillmore East 1970” in the old school block.  That record introduced us to so much 1950s blues. But we loved the funky jazz vibes.

That was way-back in the Seventies, but now  ‘Dog Is Dead’ has come along – from the same city as ‘Ten Years After’ – to brighten our days.  They create indie-pop fantasies with some jazzy tints.

The band consists of Robert Milton (vocals, guitar, bass guitar), Rob ‘Paul Roberts’ White (vocals, guitar), Joss Van Wilder (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Lawrence ‘Trev’ Cole (vocals, saxophone, bass guitar) and Daniel Harvey (replacing Lawrence Libor on drums in 2011.)  They started securing gigs in Nottingham during 2007.

The band released their debut album  ‘All Our Favourite Stories’ via Atlantic Records in October 2012.

We had a listen:

Dog is Dead smallThe album starts with the downcast-pumper ‘Get Low’ and the cynical yet sympathetic vocals from Robert Milton that are reminiscent of Lou Reed.  Time limps like a dripping tap. Misery is repeated. “I’ve got misery on my mind / And I get low /  I get low”. We’ve all been there. Bitten by misery. Knocked off our feet. Still ready for more.

Do The Right Thing’ has a glittering carousel of sparkling sounds. The bottom burps of sound   are like giggling farts –  joyfully tick tocking around.  The voice is all glimmer and gloss –  like the lucent hubs of a Studebaker sedan.

Teenage Daughter’ yaws, dips and rolls.  This song is about a magnificently precious innocence that has been lost. It’s about a future assumed taken – in a “fickle hearted” fling.  And how to live with the consequences. Then ‘Talk Through the Night’ bursts upon us. Full of quivering trills and a truly delightful melody. The main themes are richly trimmed by those impressive backing harmonies. This is a whipped cream deal. Soft, delicious and full of calamities.

Two Devils’ reminded us of some of those slower T.Rex folk rock numbers like “Life’s a Gas”  or “Lofty Skies”.  It has that innocent richness of sunny-day simplicity.  Guitars are pure – yet  steely-sharp –  and the backing vocals are gloriously angelic. “We’d write to the Devil, tell him he’s a bad influence…” the lyrics suggest. But who are the two devils here? You and I?

Glockenspiel Song’ is the first properly jazzy effort.  It has a lot of delicious sounds   – of horns and rhythm guitar foam. The beat wavers – wonderfully – at times, and this gives the piece a touch of sophistication and recklessness. The vocals are beautifully  annunciated and full of harmonious vigour.  And you will love the clap-along finish.

Heal It’ has a lonesome vibe. An itchy beat and a feathering set of textures. It bobs along and – though quite cheerful – harbours a secret regret.

River Jordan’ is ravishing and poetic. It starts with a sparkling watery sound and some undulating guitar.  The vocals are painted lightly on the delicate fabric of intertwined sounds. The piece then builds bigger – gradually dressed in robes – like a Bonfire night Guy.  “You crossed a line.” He says – but “Fear is only one thing I remember…”  When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River at Qasr el Yahud things changed forever. They could never look back. This song seems to be about crossing the invisible line.

All Our Favourite Stories’ is a fun romp – but it is not as innocuous or facile as some commentators may have made out.  Deep in the heart of every song is a dark puzzle. Just look at the album cover to get an idea on how you should approach it.

You can put this record on and let it wash over you. You can enjoy the pastel colours – the sweetmeats and the ornaments.  Or you can really check in.

Get to the bottom of this.  Go ahead, we dare you.

– © Neil_Mach June 2013 –


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