Release the Dog have released a dog of a CD and called it More Excuses. The Columbia three piece mine an indie sound that creates a bed of frantic guitar/bass/drums under a singer who tosses out lyrics like he doesn’t care. The singing is almost American shoegazer music made up for the college crowd. This style is nailed by Dinosaur Jr., Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Built To Spill and others. Release the Dog have taken the lessons learned from those bands and dumbed it down. Their guitar is awash in so much reverb and delay it sounds like a high school band from the 90s attempting to do 80’s college rock. The singing falls off key too often to be an affectation.
The lyrics are a whole lot of whining about relationships and the need to make life decisions, set to forced rhymes. Check out these from Hold On To Me: “Lately I want to walk out of my job / And find my way back to my couch / Cause these arms are the only ones today / than can ever keep me warm.” Aww too bad so sad. He seriously tried to rhyme “job,” with “couch?” And if couch arms are wrapping around you and keeping you warm, how fat are you to be wide enough for the arms of a couch? A chair, sure, but a couch?
After going online and seeing the lyrics, it just read like some diary about being unhappy in a relationship. He is really, really, really, sad. And disappointed. And hurt. And he hurt someone else. And they are sad. And disappointed. The last song ends with him repeating, “Do I care?” to which the obvious reply is “not anymore.”
So many times, their singer sounds like he is just throwing in words to try to match his guitar playing. If I heard them at a club, with the usual mix burying the vocals, I might want to take a closer listen. And the reason is the melodic-while-keeping-a-rhythm bass, the fill-per-minute drums, and basic guitar lines do create a terrific start on which I’d want to hear the songs get to the next level.
The trouble is, a closer listen resulted in such boredom, that while on a long drive, I got to the end of the record and had to play it again just to pull anything memorable from it. Personally, I like the style of the music. But if they could add a lead singer who had command over his voice and something interesting to say – and maybe a few hooks here and there – they would be a whole lot better.
Reasons to buy: If you’re already a friend or family member.
Reasons not to buy: If you like Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, Built to Spill and don’t want to listen to demos of their unreleased tracks.
2 out for decent style but nothing special