A Giant Dog – Indie/Garage Rock

From: Austin, Texas
Genre: Indie/Garage Rock

Having been somewhat swept off our feet by the influx of excellent female-fronted bands finding their stride over recent months, it will probably come as no surprise that the latest band to penetrate the Rediscover Music radar is the “indiefied” rock and roll sound of A Giant Dog. Emerging in 2008 from the remenants of their high-school band in Houston, not immune to a lineup change here and there, singer Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cashen (vocals, guitar) team up with Andy Bauer (guitar), Graham Low (bass) and Matthew Strmiska (drums) to create a formidable blend of indie tuneage, rooted in traditional rock and roll and absorbing the best of punk and glam.

And did we mention they also hail from the always reliable artistic womb of Texas, USA?!.. Gimme an enthusiastic stereotypical backyard “Hell Yeah” why don’t ya. Having already covered Dallas boys The Last Outs and paying close attention to neighbouring upstarts Breaklights, this isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last band piercing the traditional veil with a fresh and upbeat sound from the Lone Star State.

photo by Roger Ho
Having issued their debut House EP in 2010, the quintet followed up with a full length two years later in the form of Fight, giving an early indication of not only Sabrina’s robust singing talent, but the seamless gelling with Andrew’s voice as they lay together in addictive harmony, setting the tone for what would snowball into a truly unique gift come second offering Bone in 2013. As mentioned, Fight was much an introduction to A Giant Dog, fairly raw in production and experimenting with their garage, punk and rock influences. It resulted in a collection of distinguishable “genre-specific” tunes with the occasional oddly placed crossover and highlighted by the unmatchable Strokes-gone-pop number “Chatterteeth”, featuring a haunting but terrific falsetto and epitomising the dawn of their futuristic garage sound.

Having sewn their seeds alongside a growing loyal fanbase, it was the band’s live shows that were really turning heads as performances fuelled with high octane energy were led by the broad presence of front-woman Sabrina “strutting around stage like Iggy Pop channeling Tina Turner“, as their very own bio so perfectly describes. If you want a starting point on your AGD journey then we would definitely recommend the bassline-driven Bone as a benchmark, summing up their greatness with the likes of  the garagey “Lady Slut”, poppy Ramones rocker “Can’t Complain” and even country-paced “Ghostcest” showing the ballad side of the band’s forte. Unlike its predecessor this LP has a sense of oneness, where the 5-piece’s influences come together perfectly, maintaining clear individuality between songs and never failing to compliment each other. Take for example “Virgin Girl”, which sounds like Rocket From The Crypt covering The Monkees, horns included, as if fed through the European classic rock vines of Golden Earring. And it fits so well. Then there is “Cleveland Steven”, exhibiting that familiar trend noticeable throughout many of the band’s tunes where you find yourself wondering where on earth you’ve heard it before. Try your darndest but you won’t figure it out, rather just bask in acceptance at how it compares to some of the catchiest rock n roll tunes this side of Elvis.

Come 2016’s Pile (one-syllable album titles seem to be the modus operandi), the band made their honourable debut on Merge Records and continued down a similar path with the help of polished producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead). Having actually caught the attention of the legendary fellow Texas indie-poppers Spoon early on, they landed a support slot on their 2012 national tour, helping to get the name out amongst industry elite and giving a taster as to what was on the horizon. Topped by the hypnotic “Jizzney” (another song you know you’ve heard but can’t put your finger on), the LP boasts lots of well-honed garage rock vibes, popped up in a Weezer fashion by way of “Nature”, “Birthday Song” and also “Sleep When Dead”, which (probabaly unknowingly) imitates the riff of Winnebago Deal‘s “Manhunt” almost to a T. “Falling in Love” closes the record with some extra sax, possibly borrowed from close relatives Sweet Spirit, giving great depth and added magic to the outro track. In case you are wondering, Sweet Spirit is another Sabrina/Andrew band (9-piece) rocking out around Austin since 2014 with an output very similar to that of A Giant Dog and serving as an outlet for Sabrina’s overflow of material (it was originally supposed to be a solo project)! After you’ve filled up on the links below be sure to also check them out.

September sees an extensive tour of the US before the band head to Europe for a handful of shows in October. Check their website for all the dates.

Show your support and listen to the records via the links below!

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