For nearly twenty years, Milwaukee’s Cactus Club has been among the finest live music venues in the Midwest, featuring such acts as The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, The Sword, High On Fire, The Faint, Bright Eyes, Eyedea & Abilities, Red Fang, Sylvan Esso, Redd Kross, Sharon Van Etten, Polica, Russian Circles, King Tuff, and countless other national, international, and local bands.
Forging their friendships in the crucible of their Houston, TX, high school, Sabrina Ellis (vocals), Andrew Cashen (vocals, guitar), and Orville Neeley (drums) first got their start covering AC/DC, The Ramones, Joan Jett, and the finer points of the Back to the Future soundtrack at school dances under the band name Youth In Asia. Reuniting in Austin in 2008, they enlisted their pals Andy Bauer (guitar) and Graham Low (bass) and christened the act A Giant Dog.
AGD is raucous ear candy culled from the hook-driven melodies of Slade, the glammy swagger of Marc Bolan, the morbid fantasy of Killer-era Alice Cooper, and the unpredictable wit of Sparks. Sabrina and Andrew’s lyrics, equal parts brutally honest, clever, and debased, have a knack for taking their idiosyncratic depravities and making them feel universal. These songs are by, for, and about the losers, freaks, and outcasts. The lonely. The terminally horny. Boozehounds and party animals. No band better speaks to the hearts of slackers, burnouts, rockers, sluts, and creeps everywhere than A Giant Dog.
AGD have built their reputation blowing the goddamned doors off every venue in Austin. Live, they are loud, heavy, electrifying. Sabrina struts around the stage like Iggy Pop channeling Tina Turner. Andrew hurls himself from the summit of the speaker stack. Graham’s headbanging clobbers anything close to him. The audience rages, asses shake, and everyone leaves drenched in beer and bodily fluids.
Over the years, they’ve clocked in their time on the road, leaving destruction in their wake. They’ve shared members with other bands in the Austin rock ’n’ roll community including Sweet Spirit, OBN IIIs, Bobby Jealousy, and others.
In 2012, AGD impressed fellow Austinite and Spoon frontman Britt Daniel enough that he took them under his wing to start demolishing concert halls across the USA as the support act for his band. In Daniel’s own words, “Andrew and Sabrina are currently writing circles around just about anyone else in rock and roll. Their live show is insane, which is probably why I’ve seen more of their shows than any other band’s over the past few years.”
Pile, AGD’s third LP and first for Merge Records, shows a band whose years of road-dogging have honed them into unstoppable rock machines. Their second time working with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, White Denim, Trail of Dead) reveals Sabrina’s impressive pipes, Andrew’s sweet licks, and a pummeling rhythm section—everything is tighter, more focused, crisper. The album deals with divorce, getting older, dying, frustration, and futility, ultimately transcending those earthly headaches through the power of rock ’n’ roll.
The Sueves’ core sound echoes back to a time not long ago when you really had to TRY HARD to make your band stand out, pushing the boundaries of the tired “garage rock” trappings into a mutated stump of unpredictable punk splatter. The guitar tone sits somewhere between sadistically strangulated and blisteringly complicated, an ominous bonafide shredding sound that leaves you beaten and beleaguered and gasping for more, even with such serrated hooks dug in so deep. And while their less-than-shocking appearance keeps them hidden within their surroundings, it’s this visceral noise emanating from their sizzling weapons of choice that clearly sets them apart, constantly reminding you of the nastiness that lies within true rock’n roll savagery. The nuances are sickening, the delivery desperate, and that oh-so-impossible tension all tie together with The Sueves on this debut LP to level your expectations and decimate your dreams of a low-key existence.
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