Chicago trio Dummy has come up with the funniest LP cover I've seen in years: a middle-aged suburban couple is shocked to find that their "son" -- a ventriloquist's dummy, actually -- has hung himself from his bedroom ceiling. In the inner sleeve, the parents chide the same doll at dinner! (The real-life husband and wife were obviously good sports, like Leonard Graves' parents on the cover of the Dickies' "Silent Night" single, where Graves' mother was wrapped up as a present under his dad's Christmas tree.) And Hang 'Em High is full of the same working-class, post-Buzzcocks/Stranglers-inspired '80s classic Chicago punk scene influences that their fine previous LP showcased. Yeah, that means that heavy, banging, great gnarly-trebly bass of frontman Mark DeRosa follows the line from Jean Jacques Burnel and Steve Garvey to Naked Raygun's Pierre Kezdy. With lots of Raygun/Pegboy energy (all four members of the latter are thanked, including Kezdy), some early-going fits of big rhythm and chanted vocal à la Big Black, and a poppy-punk-with-balls-for-a-change charge that reminds a little of Smoking Popes, Dummy is nobody's dummy. Some of the first few songs could dig in a little harder melodically, but as the LP progresses, there are several like the zippy, outstanding "A Place to Call My Own," "Drowning Man," and "Again Again" that bite your ass on first chomp, make you hit repeat, and then hit it again. This album really finds its stride on the second half, so start with track six and sit back and get pummeled. These guys are smart and they are for real!
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AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid