Review by Gary Cordwell
American Dog Records
Release date: 24 June 2014
Neanderthal… the title of the 7th studio offering by this U.S. four-piece should have been a bit of a giveaway – this is uncomplicated, straight ahead, bud-swillin’, meat-eatin’ redneck rock! The band were formed in 1999 in Ohio by ex-Dangerous Toys and Salty Dog bassist Michael Hannon who swapped sodium chloride for stars ‘n stripes and thus were American Dog born. Guitarist SteveTheado and drummer Michael Harris completed the line-up and a second guitarist, Vinnie Salvatore, joined the pack and beefed up the sound for this latest release.
All is as expected: good, solid, Biker/Southern rock with a dash of Salty Dog ‘Hair’ thrown in for good measure. Hannon’s vocals are reminiscent of early Alice Cooper and the riffs come thick and fast. As Hannon himself declares in the title track, “I am the old school, that’s all I know” Despite the bands hard living, outlaw image, much of the album is quite tame sonically, certainly not as badass as the lyrics would have you believe – perhaps these dogs are starting to lose their bite. Several songs drag their heels and the album bows out, not with a nip at your heels, but a rather lethargic jam. Hell, they even throw in a faithful Nuge cover!
However, there are glimpses of a talent that help to explain why ex-GnR manager Doug Goldstein signed them up to his new management company. The addition of a second guitarist leads to some tasty twin lead guitar breaks, particularly in the Allmans meet three chord punk dust up of ‘Stuck In The Mud’ and the swamp blues slide crawl of ‘Sun Won’t Shine’, the albums clear standout.
So, we have a band old enough to know better but dumb enough not to! We tend to like our rock with a few more IQ points on this side of the pond and they may be slightly too lost in the late 80’s to appeal to the next generation of Beavis and Butthead’s. It’s a shame because there are moments of inspiration that show that they are capable of so much more than the (overplayed) bonehead schtick. Perhaps it’s time for these old dawgs to learn a few new tricks.
Mention must be made of the album cover. The band commissioned a work by the legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta – he of the first two Molly Hatchet sleeves – and it’s well up to his usual standard.
6 out of 10
- Who’s She Killin’
- Dirty Fun
- Sun Won’t Shine
- Stuck In The Mud
- We Ain’t Gonna Not Get Drunk Tonight
- Dog Eat Dog
- Start To Bleed
- Devil Inside