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The Golden Dogs / Big Eye Little Eye

15-Aug-2006 08:00 am Contributed by: pete Music Reviews
12 Track CD
Label: True North Records
Copyright © 2006 High Romance Music Ltd.
Listen Listen to Strong
Enema Rating:
The Golden Dogs second full-length album, Big Eye Little Eye, was released by True North Records today. After seeing them live for the first time when they opened for Cracker last month, I was looking forward to listening to this CD. On stage, I liked almost all of their songs instantly and they are just amazing to watch, but there seems to be a little something lost between the stage performance and this recording. The result is that a few of the tracks end up not being as ear-catching as I expected. But don't stop reading yet because there are a few exceptionally sweet spots spread throughout this album that make it worth returning to for many more listens.

The Golden Dogs have an overall sound like some other current Canadian bands and so, although they may not want to hear this, they share some similarities with both The Arcade Fire and Sloan. And although they may not list Super Furry Animals as one of their influences, Dave Azzolini's vocal style reminds me a little of Gruff Rhys. Mix all of that with a small dose of early Police, and you have the unique style of the Dogs.

Many of the tracks on the CD have a lo-fi sound that I wasn't expecting. Lo-fi recordings work well for bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, but after hearing The Golden Dogs live I think this recording would have benefited from a little more fidelity. The album starts out with a two-star effort called Dynamo that contains a repetitive guitar-riff and a fairly bland vocal melody. But I'm focusing on the wrong thing here; there is no point talking about the few songs that are not noteworthy because more than half of the tracks are really good alternative pop/rock songs that grew on me quickly.

The second track on the CD, Never Meant Any Harm, starts of with a bit of 80's pop synth which is not something that I would normally enjoy. But the vocals and guitar are nicely done and the song builds up over the three minutes to a point that I'm drawn in. I'm able to get past my fear of the 80's sound because there's enough depth later in the song to keep me more than satisfied. Another really strong track on the album is appropriately named Strong. I love the reserved beginning, the amazing play between Azzolini's lead vocals and Jessica Grassia's backing vocals, as well as the final 60 seconds that is filled with a driving beat and wah-pedal guitar. The last song that needs to be singled out and praised is a cover of a song by Paul McCartney and Wings called 1985 that obviously has a strong 1970's rock feel to it with loads of interesting changes, classic guitar solos, and a keyboard part that will have you hooked in under a minute. All three of these songs, including the cover, have formidable commercial promise. Other great efforts are Runouttaluck, Life On The Line, and Force of Nature.

The more I listen to this album, the more I get addicted to Azzolini's guitar and Grassia's vocals. The other band members fill in the music well, and I don't want to downplay their importance, but it is the strength of Azzolini and Gassia working together that is the real allure. I could see a connection between them on stage, and I can hear it on this album. I've added all tracks from this CD to my permanent iTunes collection and put 7 of the songs into my current playlists. When I listen to these songs, what I really want to do is get out and see The Golden Dogs live again. My recommendation is to first buy the CD to hear their songs, then get yourself out to one of their shows. Check The Golden Dogs Gig Page for details on where you can catch them live. Maybe I'll see you there.


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