Review: Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself
Perfect Pop Song Alert! “Apples & Oranges” is a perfect power pop song. It’s driven by a flugelhorn progression derived from Laurie Anderson and evokes the best of XTC from Skylarking on. Any horn sound I can’t identify I call a flugelhorn. The song makes me want to run and dance at the same time. If only it were possible to dance The Pony at 5 mph.
Dogs Die In Hot Cars hail from Scotland. Please Describe Yourself was produced by Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley, who recorded Dexy's Midnight Runners, Madness, The Smiths and David Bowie. Many bands are cited as influences, even the Talking Heads. I don’t hear the Heads. Sure there are influences, but at their core Dogs Die In Hot Cars are a talented, eclectic power pop band who wear their influences on their sleeves yet follow nobody. They don’t throw everything against the wall to see what sticks like other bands but augment their songs with clever diversions and instrumentations. They don’t steal but frequently sound like, which is in no way unoriginal when the results are impressive.
The band they follow most is XTC. There’s a bit of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Big Country, and even some New Order guitar. “Paul Newman’s Eyes” opens with what sounds like the beginning of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” (“Oh lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz ?”) There’s also an energy and musical set-up and pay-off you find in melodic Emo. The core is 70’s Power Pop, which ran from mild to fierce. New Wave wasn’t new as much as it was an updated kind of old. The Jags and The Romantics were pure power pop bands that were interesting and peppy enough to make it as New Wave bands. The Buzzcocks and (early) XTC were pop bands but too jagged and manic to be considered power pop. Dogs Die In Hot Cars are neither jagged nor boring. They get a lot accomplished in the middle area that requires good songwriting to be noticed.
“I love You Cause I Have Too” is not a Ska song. It has Ska guitar riffs but is not Ska. Third Wave ruined Ska but it’s still a very fun sound and should always be appreciated when used well.
The only weakness I found is in some of the songwriting. Paul Newman is random name-dropping of someone even I barely remember as relevant. “Celebrity Sanctum” sounds great but why do they think Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones are names that will stand the test of time? Sam Raimi dressed Bruce Campbell for the Evil Dead movies in brown corduroy pants, a blue shirt and earth shoes because he thought they’d always look modern. Oy.