We were waiting to see this band live before we made up our minds about blogging them on The Recommender. We needn’t have. Having visited Kentish Town’s Bull & Gate venue, to catch the showcase run by fellow music blogger Ollie from My Band’s Better Than Your Band, we witnessed a magnificent performance that’s earned them a piece on here with ease.
They’ve floated around since early last year, featuring on a selection of blogs and gaining decent support slots with the likes of Local Natives and Mumford & Sons, as well as a successful performance on the Introducing stage at 2010′s Glastonbury Festival.
The five-piece hail from Nottingham and you’ve never seen a band utilise their numbers so magnificently, as every instrument, from the smoothing sax, to the rattling drums, to the flowing bass, are found gliding around each other as if the band have been together for decades. They’re barely two decades in age, let alone as a band, so it’s a remarkable, contagious blend that they’ve harnessed with masterful skill. No wonder last night’s gig felt like an industry get-together!
As the sound of 2011′s indie bands swing from Paul Simon‘s Graceland to Talking Heads Remain In Light, we find yet another set of musicians wearing their 80s alternative influences like a badge of honour. It makes sense to see these two albums featuring so heavily in 2011, as both of those older albums feel like a jumbled collection of many genres, instruments and influences, which fits the Internet-obsessed Generation Y and their multitude of profiles. However, this is no set of angular guitars, or post-math rock intellectual indie; neither is it a synth-heavy fuzz of bleeps and metronomic drum machines. This band come with a comforting glow and a fervent drama.
Dog Is Dead are a confluence of many things, but they twist in another special ingredient, one that takes an influence from the nu-folk of Mumford & Sons and it’s with this extra factor that they bring out their biggest show-stopping trick – their vocal harmonies. They’re beyond breathtaking, they remove the enamel on your teeth they take your breath so impressively.
They’re brilliantly aware of their strengths, giving you shining examples of their collective voices inside every song. None more so than with their latest single, River Jordan, which has the vocals dominating almost entirely for the first thirty seconds, as the drums and crystallised guitars slowly wind upwards, before you reach a moment at 1 minute, 50 seconds in when the full theatre is unleashed.
All their songs to date, and they’re one of the most consistent around, are as stirring and rousing as any tunes by the aforementioned Mumford & Sons. Warm and rich, yearning and thoughtful, positive and energetic, this is a band who were born for a thumping live set. With instruments, such as Trev’s saxophone, as well as each of their five members, (including Lawrence on the drums!), joining in the vocal harmonies, you’d be hard pushed to find a band with a sound more full than this. Their songs have a story-telling start, middle and end, particularly in tracks such as Young, or their first single, Glockenspiel Song, where after three minutes you get the kind of confident breakdown that’s not been seen since the Arctic Monkeys held you in the palm of their hands.
The band are on a UK-wide tour, including a show at this May’s Great Escape Festival in our home city of Brighton, where you too have the chance to hand them your hearts. And you will. Believe us when we say that this band are going to be everywhere by the end of the year, so don’t wait like we did, grab your opportunity now and prepare to witness a junction in music that feels like the most hopeful aspects of life in 2011. (MB)
DOG IS DEAD – RIVER JORDAN
DOG IS DEAD – GLOCKENSPIEL SONG
DOG IS DEAD – MOTEL