With a clanging blast of nihilism, sludge wreckers Dining With Dogs show you why it is a real problem to have friends.
Churning in the musical seas of the Texas capital of Austin, Dining With Dogs came together when Mark Key (vocals and guitars), Josh Paul (drums), and Marcos Morales (on bass) found a likeness of spirit in the society of the mind. Everywhere I look, the band is described as “sludge” – hey, I just did it in the first line of this review. I don’t think that is a great descriptor. On their Facebook page (where the genre of music indicated is “Noise Rock”), the band likens its musical sentiments to Unsane, the Jesus Lizard, and Young Widows. Their music does have a clashing, discordant quality at times but it is not noise to me and it does not sound like avant-garde jazz, either. The bass and percussion are prominent here, thundering in from unusual angles, making the music heavy and attention-grabbing. When the guitar come in, and the sneaking synth, these independent forces slam together that somehow make a greater whole. The vocals, then, are the cracked cherry on a smashed cupcake – sorrowful and mournful without any sympathy.
This is their first album, The Trouble With Friends, so you can think of it as a getting acquainted kind of situation. They want you to know who they are from the jump and they are definitely not pulling any punches. From the title track, let’s listen in to a stanza … Fuck Happiness / Don’t waste your time / Species survival / Is all we can expect. Mmhmm. From the brain rattling opener “Oddly Shaped Skull” to the title song in the middle and past the eerie “Fruit of the Poison Tree” [my favorite] to the lock-down last cut, “Killing Machine,” there is no respite. You have to deal with every minute of this music. There’s not much to compare it to that captures the compositions and performances. You just have to hear it. Recommended.
The Trouble With Friends is out this Friday, May 15. Find it at Dirt City Studios and Bandcamp (links below).