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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sundogs

Legends In Their Own Minds

Review by Gary Hill

In a lot of ways this feels like something that would have been at home on the radio in the 1970s. The music here most often calls to mind Steely Dan, but there are plenty of other retro reference points built into it. All in all, you can really tell that these guys are influenced by that period of sound. The only thing that pulls you out of that illusion is the vocal arrangement. It feels more alternative rock, DIY styled. I can't decide if it's actually the vocal performances or the recording and mix. Either way, that's the one piece that doesn't really fit with the rest of the picture. Still, it's not a deal-breaker by any means.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fallen Hero
The guitar based arrangement that opens this seems absolutely suited for 1970s radio. There is a real Tom Petty vibe as the vocals join. There are hints of country brought into it from some of the guitar fills. The chorus is section is particularly soaring and classic in sound. This is a great way to start the set in style. The bridge around the two-minute mark brings both some killer piano work and some hints of progressive rock and jazz. The guitar solo that follows it calls to mind The Allman Brothers a bit.
Snowman

I dig the cool guitar riff that opens this. As the other instruments join this begins to resemble a jazzy Doors kind of thing. The vocals come in bringing a bit of a different flavor. There are definitely some comparisons to Steely Dan that can be made. This number is quite jazz-oriented. The horns add to that, but the whole arrangement brings that vibe, really.

Johnny
This thing has some serious funk built into it. It's a killer retro rocker that works very well. With inspired performances and a lot of energy, this is topical and yet fun.
Castle
The jazzy groove on this again calls to mind Steely Dan. In fact, that comparison might be even more valid here. The lead vocals don't quite fit that scheme, but the picture is pretty complete otherwise.
Hope
More of a retro blues rocker, this is mainstream and classy. I really love the killer piano solo later in the piece.
Alive Tonight
Piano brings this into being. As it works out from there the jazz elements take control. This is another that has some hints of Steely Dan. There is some Billy Joel built into this, too, though. They build it out into more of a mainstream rock song later, but there is still plenty of jazz in the mix.
Already Gone
I dig the cool rocking vibe on this. The number has more of a modern texture than some of the rest do, but there are still plenty of retro things on display here.
Land of Broken Dreams
I can make out some hints of The Kinks here. This is guitar rock based tune than some of the others here are. It's still very 70s based. It's also another particularly classy tune. In fact, this is one of my favorites here.
Did It Really Happen
Now, this number brings us into a full-on jazz treatment. It's a classy cut that lends and intriguing variant to the sound of Sundogs.
Intro
This is just a short introduction that has a real mellow world music vibe to it.
Sahara
There is an intriguing, dream-like quality to this. The number seems to have elements of both world music and psychedelia. The acoustic stylings on this are great. The instrumental section brings some more jazz textures to the number. This is another highlight of the set.
End of The World
I dig the retro jazzy rock elements of this cut. It's another that calls to mind Steely Dan. It's a catchy and energetic piece that works well. I love the horn soloing on this thing.
 
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