Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog

by Jim Cunnar Rating:9 Release Date:2018-04-06
Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog

There is a rumor that the days of the guitar are marked. With a seismic shift to the electronic sounds of EDM and hip-hop, guitar based rock seems to be taking a back seat. But, if one peels back the outer layer of today’s music scene, you will find that the guitar is alive and well, and it is thriving in the hands of some very capable women.

Hop Along’s third album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, is an incredibly strong effort. Lead singer and guitarist Frances Quinlan has written an album which has both emotional and musical density, yet one that is incredibly approachable. Produced by lead guitarist Joe Reinhart and Kyle Pully, Bark Your Head Off, Dog impressively combines many different feels and sounds, mixed perfectly to provide a listen that pushes the listener yet doesn’t overwhelm, but requiring a few spins to discover the sonic easter eggs left for our ears.

Opener “How Simple” dives right in, a jangly indie gem that sets the tone for the album. Drummer Mark Quinlan’s syncopations offset his sister’s acoustic strums and Reinhart’s jangles on follow up “Somewhere A Judge”, giving the first nod to The Sundays, allowing Frances’ Harriet Wheeler to shine through.

“How You Got Your Limp” is one of the highlights of the album, whose strings and whistling provide a backdrop for Quinlan to acoustic strum and decisively croon. It’s gorgeous. “The Fox In Motion” picks up the pace, showcasing the power of the entire band. Drummer Quinlan and bassist Tyler Long lay down a fierce tight groove, with Frances’ vocal acrobatics dancing above and around and Reinhart dropping a fierce solo to close the song. If you are looking for one song to listen to off BYHO,D I’d say this is the one.

Penultimate “Look Of Love” adds in more complexity with a Wurlitzer organ, and the album closes with “Prior Things”, whose Kishi Bashi inspired violin riff beautifully frames Quinlans sublime voice, allowing it to linger in our brains like a fine wine.

Quinlan’s voice is the strength of Hop Along, a fifth instrument which she uses to it’s fullest. Whether her voice is sprinkled with some gravel (as on “Not Abel”) or pure and silky (as on “Somewhere”), the effects with which she delivers her lyrics perfectly match the creativity of the music. A great voice needs a great band as the foundation, and Quinlan has that with her crew. The music is complex and creative, nuanced and mature. Combine all of these ingredients and you have one hell of a listen.

The guitar isn’t dead folks, and neither is rock and roll. It’s legacy is being carried along by the next generation of musicians whose creativity is bringing out a beauty the instrument hasn’t seen in years. Using organs, strings, whistling and harpsichords with acoustic and lead guitar can lead to some great sounds, but add in an angelic voice like Quinlans, and it makes for some truly special listening. 

Somehow, in this day and age, it seems fitting that women will likely be the ones to save rock and roll.  Thank goodness. 

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