Dogs : Tall Stories From Under the Table

<img src="" alt=" " />On their sophomore release, <em>Tall Stories From Under the Table</em>, London’s Dogs don’t exactly radically change their anthemistic indie rock, but it still works well...
7.6 Weekender

 On their sophomore release, Tall Stories From Under the Table, London’s Dogs don’t exactly radically change their anthemistic indie rock, but it still works well for them. Having made the U.K. charts with a couple of singles off of their 2005 debut, Turn Against This Land, and touring Great Britain and the Continent with the likes of The Twang (QRO review) and others, the Dogs were a little more ambitious on Tall Stories, but not all the time.  While they could have used to spread that ambition around a little bit more – and used it a little less as mere tempo and volume changes – the English band work from a strong base to deliver a still strong album.“Dirty Little Shop”, the most recent single, opens up Tall Stories, and while good, the shifts from intense, to quiet, to anthemistic – and back again – don’t add as much to the straightforward piece as one would hope.  The wistfully expansive penultimate track, “By The River”, is also dented by rhythm changes, this time with somewhat played-out jagged bits.  The catchy beat of “Forget It All” isn’t marred in that way, but other than adding the ‘droplet’ sound familiar to Mac users, this piece isn’t saved from a ‘little too simple’ fate.  Prior single “This Stone is a Bullet” is some strong guitar-rock, if not exactly ‘alt’, possessing a memorable chorus (even if the line, “The one thing I never heard / Is anger is habitual”, is better than the title chorus line).  Better is the first single, “Soldier On’, a sad, driving, war-time ode, which still has a catchy rhythm. Sadness and rhythm are actually two of Tall Stories’ chief strengths.  The slow, darkly-bopping “Winston Smith” actually employs some interesting changes with its guitar strums, from a dark staccato, to regular, to downbeat.  “Chained To No One” is some fine, sad alt-blues (in a lower-class British accent), with a world-weary wisdom.  Both pieces also get impressively expansive at their ends, something Dogs do well, and really isn’t done enough of this album.  Record-finisher “Let It Lay” is the most ‘different’ song on the release, a piano-focused melancholy that evocatively delivers its emotion, with a very moving chorus. Unfortunately, the Dogs seem to trust their sadness more than their equally good rhythm, nowhere more so than on “On a Bridge, By a Pub”.  The catchy verse beat is too quickly abandoned for staccato shouts and a slow chorus (not to mention an indulgent guitar solo); the piece shows real promise, and then dashes it.  Far better are the tracks that immediately precede and follow “Bridge”, “Little Pretenders” and “Who Are You” (respectively).  The rapid-fire guitars of “Pretenders” are powerfully driving, and singer Johnny Cooke’s vocals work well with the rapid beat, while “Who” employs a superb anthemistic cry (especially in the chorus) that totally carries the listener along, without ever being overbearing. To fans of Turn Against This Land, Dogs’ Tall Stories From Under the Table may be a slight disappointment – but more likely a serious pleasure.  The strong similarities with the first record make Tall Stories almost ‘Keep Turning Against This Land’, but really, Turn was never a reinvention of the musical wheel, meaning that sticking to its script doesn’t prescribe a Strokes-style sophomore slump.  Instead, the Dogs once again deliver the inspiring indie rock that you’ve been looking for, and with some added, though not always spot-on, flourish.

Album Reviews
  • Anonymous
  • No Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Album of the Week