The Lord Dog Bird
The Lord Dog Bird
Post-progressive rock band Wilderness has become silent on both the album and tour fronts these last few years. The first release to surface during this self-imposed hiatus is guitarist Colin McCann’s solo side project, The Lord Dog Bird. Although it’s bound to become a rock critic cliché when reviews of this album hit, this LP sounds like a Wilderness album that was actually cut in the wilderness.
Wilderness was notorious for perfectionism, most notably taking four years of fine-tuning before releasing their debut. McCann’s effort here — all hazily cut on a 4-track — is the antithesis to his band’s songcraft. These are rough interpretations, almost bare enough to be considered demos. Occasionally a range of instruments will fill up the space of a song, but largely there’s just one instrument — guitar, piano, mandolin, etc. — sharing dual duty on rhythm and melody.
McCann’s signature guitar lines crackle all over the record, from the blinding monolithic glint of opener “The Shedding Path,” to the junkyard serrations sawing “No Security,” through the lightning fingers heating up “The Gift of Song in the Lion’s Den.” It’s all distinctly Wilderness-ian and practically begs for a stalwart rhythm section and James Johnson’s snarling commands. In comparison to his full-time band’s distinct vocals, McCann turns in a shaky, insistent tenor that falls somewhere between Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. It’s a very honest, open sounding voice, far from perfect, but well suited for this material.
It might take a couple listens for fans of Wilderness to enjoy this minimal, progressive-free spin on a familiar sound, but it’s worth the effort. Hopefully, McCann’s experience writing and recording this LP will translate to a quicker turn-around time with his band’s records, and cement in their heads that perfectionism isn’t the only viable route to achieving an ideal sound.