Shoot The Dog
This debut LP is a self-actualized study of parallel lives lived, abandoned spaces explored, vital/petty scores kept, momentary peace attained and, mostly, freedom sought. It sometimes sounds like a proto-metal band playing R&B. Or a fusion group covering Tom Petty. Or Manchester alt-dudes doing Americana. Actually, it sounds like The Cloak Ox, and that's clearly a pretty silly thing to try and pin down. Shoot the Dog begins with “Yesterday’s Me,” a nine-minute dive into Funkadelic swamp-sadness cut with hard-gnarled guitars and heartbreaking vignettes. The song ends with a fiery prog dirge that breaks across the strong back of “Josephine,” a Lynott-kissed rocker that disguises its dark implications in a blindly bright chorus.
On the potent and surreal “Andy Broder’s Dream,” we hear hints of Queen and 70’s McCartney while Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon contributes harmonies. Dark Dark Dark’s Nona Marie Invie lends plaintive, earthy harmonies to a couple of songs. So does TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. The hand percussion comes from Havana, Cuba’s Frank Rivery Garcia, and also there are strings and horns and organs and more voices that emerge with each delightful left turn. There’s a song that reminds us of The Road (“Hot Hands”) and also that one where Broder weighs his/our best intentions against his/our true nature (“Talking Big,” or maybe all of them). And then there’s the transcendent “Pigeon Lung,” in which he says all of the things we’d like to say to all of the shitheads who antagonize us with all of their pointlessness, but in one simple line: “Fucker, I’m tired of your riddles.” Crude though the lyric may be, it’s what needs to be said.
The Cloak Ox aren’t here to dance around your issues. To paraphrase another Shoot the Dog song, they are in the business of creating real moments in this life. If you overlook them, that’s on you.