“White Dog”

By Lord Randall

There’s really no reason at all why I shouldn’t be frothing at the mouth over Austin, TX pack WHITE DOG. I mean they tick ALL the boxes. From the Southern US, named after an animal, twin guitar harmonies (scratch that – “guitarmonies”, as the band say), guitars, long hair, hats, AND the quintet looks like 5/6 of the ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND or the classic lineup of MOLLY HATCHET shat them out their ass in the promo photos. So yeah, absolutely no reason. Oh, and and they’re on Rise Above, one of the most reliable labels going since it began. 

But I can’t, and the reason I can’t is, unfortunately, in this case, the most important one. The songs. The songs just aren’t there. And I hope you appreciate what I had to fight through within myself to say that and mean it. ‘Sawtooth’ and ‘Black Powder’ blow past without one single thing that makes me sit up and take notice or stop and rewind to hear some amazing lick or riff again. ‘The Lanterns’ pricks up my ears substantially, but on first listen I can’t swear that it’s not just better than what’s come before that’s making me pay closer attention. Now, ‘Snapdragon’ is truly interesting/entertaining with its electrified CSNY melodies, about ¾ of the way through moving early ALICE COOPER BAND territory for the coda. It’s during ‘Crystal Panther’ that I begin to realize one drawback, at least for my ears, is the somewhat nasal delivery of vocalist Joe Sterling. It’s almost hard to refer to someone on their first album as “phoning it in”, but his vocals seem more like a placeholder than anything else, not much actual singing going on, so much as intoning over the music. 

The leadwork in ‘Pale Horse’ is fumbling, and there’s an air of predictability over the whole of the album that just won’t let up. Sometimes, when writing about music, reviewing an album, you go into it expecting to hate it. You’ve almost started the negative review in your head before hitting Play because of the promo info sheet. I’ll admit it. Then you’re pleasantly surprised, and end up enjoying yourself. It’s even worse when you give an album every chance in the world, you hit Play expecting to be taken somewhere, and you end up as disappointed as I am with WHITE DOG’s first showing.