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White Dog - White Dog

White Dog
White Dog
by Mark Machlay at 17 November 2020, 6:31 AM

Rarely do you see a band that not only fits the sound of a bygone era, but walks, talks and rocks it out for real. WHITE DOG was born amid the musical and cultural cyclone of Austin, Texas in 2015 and is a shot in the arm of the ailing notion of good old homegrown, grassroots rock ‘n’ roll. Guitarist Carl Amoss admits that WHITE DOG are the bastard songs of their city’s underground music scene and try to embody every facet of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. This fact is echoed on the psychedelia-infused, southern rock cover of their self-titled debut. Along with his brother John Amoss on drums, Rex Pape on bass and Clemente De Hoyos on drums, the group were all going to Texas State University to study music before singer Joe Sterling joined the band. As soon as they found their frontman, the band was born and they were ready to explore boundless musical landscapes of back-to-roots hard rock. Once they were signed to revered UK imprint Rise Above Records, they got right to work on their formidable debut record.

WHITE DOG’s sound is mix of classic rock, southern rock, proto-metal, psychedelia and even a touch of progressive rock with the hairpin turns and transitions from one section of a song to another. The band’s self-titled debut features eight tracks that feel so organic, it feels as though they were created in the studio and recorded on the spot. I worked in studios in the past and rarely do you find a group that has such chemistry and fluidity to comfortably navigate from a slow groovy style into a heavier jazz/funk riff without it sounding forced or smashed together. The pure sound of Carl Amoss’s Stratocaster on one channel and Clemente De Hoyos’ Les Paul in the other provides so much flow and pure raw rock tone that you just can’t get with so many effects layered on top of each other.

Personally, I hear a lot of the great sound of the 70s and 80s in this recording. Right from the start with “Sawtooth”, I heard the special placing and favoring of the right channel and got excited because here is a band actually using studio techniques to enhance the sound of a recording, using the tools to put the listener right up on stage with the band. There is a great harmony between the bass and guitar early on in the song that shows the care these boys put into their compositions. Then there is “Black Powder” a slower, groove-oriented track that gave me feelings of early bands like CREAM and THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE. “Lanterns” is swinging track that creates a dark undercurrent of a dark and moody atmosphere that isn’t immediately apparent until you absorb the lyrics, it’s such a subtle touch. Each track is a new exploration into gems of the past. As mentioned, every track seems organic and natural, but the heavily improvised nature of the tracks can get a little repetitive at times. With a little bit more polish, some focus and a doubling down on the spirit that went into this first release, I see them exploding out of the niche market in Austin, Texas and blowing up nationwide.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Sawtooth
2. Black Powder
3. Lanterns
4. Snapdragon
5. Crystal Panther
6. Abandon Ship
7. Pale Horse
8. Verus Cultus
Lineup:
Joe Sterling – Vocals
Carl Amoss – Guitar
John Amoss – Drums
Rex Pape – Bass
Clemente De Hoyos – Guitar
Record Label: Rise Above Records
     


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