Review: All Dogs, ‘Kicking Every Day’
Written by Joel Funk
I first heard All Dogs in July of 2014. I was looking for new bands to feature on what is now called Press Play, but was then called Hatchlings. Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. had just posted about a young band called All Dogs with a simple message: “Listen to this.” It obviously wasn’t directed at me, but it sure did feel like it. I was taken aback by the welcoming fuzz of the opening riff of “BUDDY” and even more-so by equally soft and powerful vocals. I listened to that self-titled EP for a couple of weeks and let it fade into my collection, as one does with music they find and end up wanting to listen to on an infrequent basis.
Just a little over one year later and we’re on the cusp of All Dogs’ debut album, ‘Kicking Every Day.’ This is a collection of songs that does more than make good on promises made by the 7”. It shows us that All Dogs could very easily be a band that takes over the world. The sweet, fuzzy sounds of indie rock have never really left pop culture, but they’ve definitely taken a more subdued, behind-the-scenes role in the inspiration behind a lot of artists that mainstream media loves to consume: acts like [early] Tegan and Sara, Bleachers, Fun. All to an extent, got started in the indie world. I’d be willing to put money that All Dogs is, without question, slated to become one of those bands.
The New York Times write-up of ‘Kicking Every Day’ started with the line “there’s something about 2015 that sounds a lot like 1994,“ and while I can’t attest to that personally, I can’t say that I don’t understand the point they were trying to make. A lot of music we’ve heard this year pays an incredible amount of homage to the music of decades past. Earlier this year, I talked about a band called Adventures that released one of the dreamiest records of the year with ‘Supersonic Home.’ Even then, both comparison and direct influence from bands like both The Lemonheads and The Cranberries were often discussed in tandem with the record. A similar feeling shines through on ‘Kicking Every Day.’
The same influences may not be immediately present, but it’s clear that this point in indie-rock’s sonic history have played just as big a role on All Dogs. That theme is omnipresent throughout the record, but one of the very first noticeable moments comes through on “Sunday Morning.” The song opens with this sweet, sort of bouncy riff that keeps the hushed harmonies afloat. You drift through the song like a sweet dream, and before you know it, it comes to and end with what seems to be a very meek howl.
Where “Sunday Morning” was hushed, “That Kind of Girl” is brash. There is a very clear punk influence that works as the backbone of the song. The distorted and driving guitar work play off of the shouty and anthemic vocals to create what is one of the strongest songs on the record. The opening riff is something that I could see doing well commercially. It’s fun and it’s fast and it makes you want to dance. I mean, if The Transplants can do it, I don’t see a world where All Dogs cant. This song just rips.
Those two songs may show two very different sides to All Dogs, but that doesn’t mean the album is always one or the other. “Flowers” is a track that merges the two styles very well. The energy and urgency from “That Kind of Girl” are present, but the harmonies and melody that made “Sunday Morning”special are too. It’s a punk song through and through, but it has that wide appeal that is sure to catch your attention.
“Skin” is a slow-burner, but it’s worth the extended listen. Clocking in at just over the five minute mark, it’s the longest song on the album. It starts out a crawler, but finds its legs around the one and a half minute mark. Everything crashes together in harmony and carries the song into a new life. This helps the song from feeling like it’s as long as it is.
‘Kicking Every Day” comes to a close with the somber and slow “The Garden.” This song is a skeleton and it’s not afraid to be just that. It’s a melodic, melancholy journey that rounds out the experience of listening to the the record. We’ve seen All Dogs embrace all of their influences, from the bouncy and ephemeral indie sweet spots to the rowdy and brash beacons of punk. The beauty of this whole experience boils down to just how easily they managed to blend all of these styles. Nothing feels forced, and if anything, each song feels like an extension of the last. I’m interested to see what the future has in store for All Dogs. There’s always something new in the garden, after all.