A Giant Dog Bone review


On their latest LP Bone, A Giant Dog deliver yet another collection of raw, unfettered garage punk songs, bursting with exuberance if not a little short on hooks. While just one of at least a hundred bands of which Sabrina Ellis and Orville Neeley are simultaneously members, A Giant Dog manage to carve out their own niche, but still retain familiar aspects of their multi-talented members’ other projects. I’m pretty sure I’ve brought it up before, but I’ve got a bit of a bug up my ass when it comes to “garage” music. To me it’s usually just hipster punk, ironically trying to sound even less self-absorbed and industry-affected than traditional punk ever strove to be, but coming off thin and uninteresting instead. The nice thing about A Giant Dog is that they couldn’t be boring if they tried, and I doubt there’s anything ironic about their music. In fact, I get an honest sense from listening to them that they’re just having a good time. This is both a good and bad thing as the end result is likely more fun for them to play than it is for me to listen to.

Bone is definitely a quality album, avoiding the typical garage pitfalls of trying to sound too lo-fi. Where it falls a little flat for me is in the number of songs that never build very far beyond a single riff. This has the effect of making the album feel like background music for the most part; yet when a hook does rear its head, such as in songs like “Nutria” and “Teasin’ Ass Bitch,” I take notice. The same goes for Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cachen’s dual vocals as well. When they’re in sync there’s a sort of messy harmony that complements the grimy sheen of the rest of the music quite well, but when they’re off it just kinda blends into the background. It’s the kind of album that I’d definitely have as part of a random mix, but not one I’d listen to alone in its entirety very often.

Perhaps Bone’s most interesting song is also its most unique. Late in the album there’s an unexpected moment where the track Ghostcest drops the punk rock tempo, goes acoustic, and throws in a cello, for three and a half minutes that feel like something from another group altogether. It’s a thoroughly delightful song that’s a unique mix of folk and punk and features the same playfulness of the rest of the album, but is constructed and executed in a somehow more compelling manner. I’d easily listen to an entire album of songs just like it.

Like many other albums of this stripe, Bone occupies a weird middle ground for me where I either want it to be cleaner and more melodic or shorter, louder, and faster. I chalk it up to too much hardcore and old-school emo music. Either way A Giant Dog have produced a decent album, even though it misses the high bar on my scale. Check it out all the same. Mileage may vary.

– Brian Audette