LOSER DOG are Blake Foster and Sean Gill-MacDonald from Tacoma, Washington. Their debut album dropped a few months ago, recorded and mixed locally in Tacoma.
With Blake on vocals and Sean on virtually everything else, you might expect something soft and simplistic from only two members. That, however, is not the case. The album's sound is full and luscious, and deserves to be listened to at full volume. Trip-hop, rap, and melodic vocals weave in and around selections of acoustic guitar chords, bright electric solos, grounding bass and soothing synth. Not to say that the tracks themselves are soothing; the space for drums is replaced by a drum machine, adding an edgy industrial feel to the album and accentuating the trip-hop attributes of the music.
The songs range from blatantly angry rock tracks to melancholy ballads to downright upbeat jams. The vibraphone blended with ringing electric guitar chords over electronic drum beats on the track "Witch's Brew", for example, is creative and groovy. The selection of instruments and their use and layering in each song keeps things interesting without being chaotic or going over the top. Which leads me to the fact that the album is expertly mixed and produced; Sean's instincts and creativity really shine within the stop-and-go instrumentation of each song. The effects are well placed, and he makes this duo sound like a five-piece band.
Blake's vocals dominate each track and pull you through the song with a mixture of careful melody and rap. One thing that you'll notice right off the bat is Blake's distinct voice. Although probably not what you're used to, unlike a vocalist with an interesting voice who doesn't know what they're doing, it's undeniable that this guy's got talent, and he uses it to express the lyrics he's written for the album. His control is tight, and he it's obvious he means each word. He may not sound completely pristine and perfect; but if he did, it wouldn't be rock and roll. Thoughtfully intertwining vocal harmonies add another dimension to a handful of the tracks. You can tell Blake is extremely influenced by his life, romantic and otherwise, which comes out particularly in slower pieces like "Camelia", a heartfelt track with a melody that'll stick with you.
The only complaint I have is a little bit of audio clipping on songs with distinctly heavy bass, but for being self-mixed, I'm still impressed. Within these tracks, I'm sure you'll find more than a few that will stick with you and have you backtracking on your iTunes to hear them again. Loser Dog's self titled debut album will have you nodding your head, humming the melodies on your way to work, and looking out for a second record. Their acoustic-electric rock/trip-hop fusion is reminiscent of a mixture of Oasis and Gorillaz, and is a combination that is not heard as often as it should be. I'm not sure who the Loser Dog is, but it sure as hell isn't these guys.
-Alex Kaylan of Pandementia, 4/20/10
released March 1, 2010
Blake Foster - Vocals, Lyrics
Sean Gill-MacDonald - Guitars, MIDI, Keyboards, Bass
All songs written and produced by Foster/Gill-MacDonald.
Mixed and Mastered by Sean Gill-MacDonald.
Engineered by Sean Gill-MacDonald and Grant Carroll.
Cover Photo by Clifford D. Foster III.
Recorded at Hungry Bard Studios.
all rights reserved