All Dogs

Kicking Every Day

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Ohio quartet All Dogs show a great deal of promise on their debut album, Kicking Every Day. Their '90s throwback sound is easy to categorize -- think Blake Babies with more bite or that dog. if they were less fluffy -- but they manage to escape any plagiarism charges in a couple important ways. The band brings live-wire energy to the louder, more insistent tracks with the guitars scrapping away and the cymbals crashing, but also have the finesse to jangle sweetly on the tracks that show off their more sensitive side. Even more impressively, they have a great singer, Maryn Jones, who wrings every bit of emotion out of the lyrics without ever going too far or showing too much. She writes heartbreakingly precise, incessantly catchy songs that work both as '90s throwback jams and as an unflinching view into Jones' unsettled mind and heart. She has a distinctive voice and lyrical stance and any band, female-fronted or not, from the '90s would have been glad to add any song on Kicking Every Day to its repertoire. The short, spiky blasts of "That Kind of Girl" and "Flowers" are perfect for getting a crowd jumping along, the deeply felt vocals on "How Long" are ideal for tear-stained singalongs, and the grungier, more intense tracks like "Black Hole" and "Skin" are sure to bring a major case of the feels to anyone who's ever felt like the spurned lover in a teen movie. The best track on the album, "Leading Me Back to You" does two really cool things. It sounds almost exactly like a song from Bettie Serveert's brilliant album from 1992, Palomine, and near the end, after Jones has basically crawled across the floor in agony, the band segues into a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Spring." The shock of it barely wears off even after repeated listens and her totally wracked vocals never do less than inspire total devotion in all but the most Teflon-hearted listeners. This kind of emotion matched with songwriting craft and inspired playing makes Kicking Every Day an impressive debut from a band that's stuck in the past for sure, but only in the good parts.

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