Holy Dogs


Capitol Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Every once in a while, I listen to a disc that is the equivalent of Chinese food. I listen to it, and it's very satisfying -- but when I sit down to write about it, I find myself needing to listen to it again.

That's why I've been promising my friend at Capitol Records a review of Holy Dogs, the latest release from Stir, for the past three days, and am only getting to it now. The moment I sat down in front of the keyboard, I felt like I had missed something with the disc, and wanted to give it another spin. Good thing for everybody involved that this was such a pleasant disc to listen to.

What, you ask, is Stir like? Take the alternative leanings of a group like Live, throw in the vocal harmonies of Yes and add a pinch of Dave Matthews Band. Okay, so now your mouth is watering, right? The band -- vocalist/guitarist Andrew Schmidt, bassist/vocalist Kevin Gagnepain and drummer/vocalist Brad Booker -- cook up just the right mixture of alternative groove and layered sound to make you wonder if this really is a trio pulling such rich musical textures off.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the opening track "Superstation," it's almost impossible not to be hooked by these guys. There's an underlying funk through most of the tunes on Holy Dogs that is strong enough to let you know that it's there, but never becomes overpowering in the music. Stir seem to know not only how to create an appropriate mixture of musical influences, but also how to keep it balanced for an entire album.

Don't be surprised if you keep finding yourself going back to such tracks as "New Beginning" (which better be topping alternative rock stations' lists of most popular tracks, if there's any justice in this world), "Spaceman," "Help" or even the infectious "Velvet Elvis." Be surprised if these tunes don't get you tapping your foot or humming their melodies after listening to them.

Granted, the formula starts to wear a little thin near the end, especially on tracks like "Moon" and "Clear," but the title track that closes the disc nicely wraps things up for Stir.

The only real negative I've found with Holy Dogs is that it doesn't seem to have the magnetic staying power that so many other bands who have reached some marginal success have with some of their songs. Yes, tracks like "New Beginning" and "Superstation" stick with you -- but all too often, I found myself questioning how tracks like "Help" or "Grounded" went, even if I had just finished listening to the album for a fourth time. Unfortunately, there really isn't any magical cure for this; only time and experience will benefit Stir in this regard.

Still, Holy Dogs is a disc that you can pop in and enjoy from start to finish, without having any feelings of guilt afterwards. But if you find yourself having cravings like you want to listen to the disc again -- that's perfectly normal.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.